5 questions with ... Brenda Rudolph, dairy farmer in Central Minnesota
Q: What is your role in agriculture today?
My husband Nathan and I dairy farm in Central Minnesota. We milk 100 Holstein cows in a tie stall barn. Nathan and I share the workload on our farm. We purchased the farm from Nathan's parents in 2011. Nathan is a fifth-generation dairy farmer on our farm. Our children are with us every step of the way. I share our life on a dairy farm on my blog Raisingafarmer.com and in social media.
Q: How has agriculture shaped your life?
To be married to a dairy farmer and to be a dairy farmer were not the boxes I was going to check on the worksheet of life. Living in the farmyard where five generations of women have raised their families and worked alongside their husbands is extremely humbling. When I think of how many children started kindergarten at the end of our driveway it is so much more than a family farm. Agriculture has brought wonderful people into my life. From when I first was working on my uncle's dairy farm to today, agriculture has had a huge impact on my life. I am surrounded by a tribe of people who love their families, care about their friends and do everything for their cows. I love people. We all want to feel that we belong. To have people in my life who are walking the same walk of life we are or who have walked the same path is a wonderful thing. Dairy farming has given me time with family. The trade-off is hard work, but I have time with my children, my husband and family. We are together in the barn or in the tractor. We are together.
Q: What is the biggest misconception you work to overcome in dairy farming?
"Is it true you need to milk cows everyday, twice a day even Christmas?" Our cows are milked twice a day. When we are not there someone needs to be there. Chores need to be done, feeding and milking can not be pushed till tomorrow.
Q: If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
Farming is hard work but a good life. The mental stress of dairy farming can be heartbreaking at times. The farm always comes first; cows need to be milked no matter what, and at times this can make your heart heavy. We worry about our cows and calves. We are all-in, financially, physically and emotionally. At times it feels we are putting our family on the line because we are at the mercy of the weather, the markets and acts of God. Dairy farming is a walk of faith. There are things we can control, but there are more we cannot control, so we need to have faith. Faith our family will be safe, faith our cows will continue to provide for us, and faith we will get through the hard times. Faith.
Q: What makes you smile?
My children and Nathan make me smile. Everett and Vivian are the distraction we need, especially now when we are in the high-debt, low-equity phase of farming. They are the encouragement we need when we second guess ourselves with "Why are we dairy farming?" They are the power house looking towards our future, and tomorrow will be a better day. When we go to the local feed mill and they win over the hearts of everyone there, that makes me smile. Nathan and I enjoy each other and we laugh with each other. At times it seems like that is the only thing we can do is laugh, because if we didn't we would be in the corner lost. Laughter is the best medicine. Especially now.
Brenda and her husband Nathan milk 110 Holsteins on the farm they purchased from Nathan's parents in 2011. Their children, Everett, 7, and Vivian, 2, are the sixth generation on the dairy farm. Learn more about them at https://www.facebook.com/raisingafarmer, https://www.instagram.com/raisingafarmer, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFuughghIwNhJV5dX8wZtxA and " target="_blank">www.twitter.com/brenda2rudolph.