Meeting farm friends brings joy

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dairy farm

On a quick Saturday trip to town for ear tags and syringes, we decided to stop for a late lunch. Sitting in a restaurant booth, enjoying a sandwich, my hubby looked around and said, “Hey, I think we know those guys!”

Since we rarely go anywhere that he doesn’t know someone, I wasn’t too surprised. He approached their table while I finished eating. Next thing I hear is the most contagious laughter I’ve heard in a long time.

“Hey! Coach! Hubba hubba ding ding!”

I heard the one fellow say, followed by laughter. I knew I had to join this party. My hubby is known as Coach to many of the boys he was lucky enough to lead through junior high football over a number of years.

Since it was their introduction to actually playing the game, it was much like trying to teach a bunch of pups a sport in a foreign language. The adults all held out hope that on game day they were fully trained to hold a formation.

Play names

Doug came up with silly names for plays thinking it could perhaps make them easier to remember. The hubba-hubba-ding-ding play is one they all seem to remember to this day.

These two young men, one a classmate of our son, the other a classmate of our nephew, were always happy-hearted, fun boys.

As it turns out, we could have stayed and talked all day long. The brothers grew up on a farm and have now gone into business together with their own dairy farm.

“We started out with the worst bunch of scrub cows you’ve ever seen. Lame, three teats, one foot in the grave cows,” Matt described with a laugh. “Most guys with half a brain would have told us we were crazy, and I think you’d have bet against us ever making it if you’d seen us starting out.”

The milking setup they started out with was far less than desirable, but they knew it was their best chance to get their own farm going.

“It was pretty awful, but we had a plan,” Joe said, “whether it made any sense to anybody else or not.”

They have built a nice herd from those early days, now milking around 200, with their milking setup the way they long ago had hoped for. Milk prices are challenging them to squeeze every dime while they hope for stronger years ahead.

Shared values

Their jovial attitude carried a shared underlying determination, so great to witness. We caught up on family and learned that the brothers have both been married for a few years, and each became a father to a baby girl just a few months apart this past year.

I reminded them that girls quite often prove to be some of the best workers, great with calves in the early years and gentle with the mature cows later on. Girls are sometimes more steady in the patience department in certain situations, which goes a long way toward building a calm, productive herd.

As we said goodbye and headed to the farm store, it felt like the day had gotten a whole bunch better. It lifts my spirits to know there are good, young dairy farm families starting out, building their own way with hard work, determination and pride.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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