As the holiday season comes to an end, I find myself looking back over the last few weeks and thinking, “What a whirlwind!”. Balancing work and family time with life and traveling around the holidays. One thing I have learned over the years is life on a dairy makes the holidays a little different than most people’s. There is no paid time off or paid holidays for dairy producers. Work continues as usual on the dairy, making things a little non-traditional. For starters, I have never wished for a white Christmas. While the farmer in me is always glad when we get some moisture here in New Mexico, the dairy side of me knows that it just means extra work for everyone. As a kid, all my friends would dream of snow on Christmas. All I could think was, snow means no presents until Christmas afternoon because my dad would have to work a little longer. As is, we waited to open presents until after all the morning chores were done. And you just had to hope everything went smoothly.
Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association Annual Convention. For one of the break out sessions, I was asked to present on our nutrient management program called CAFOweb. The Convention was held in Salem, OR. I had not been to Oregon since I was a kid, so I decided to stay an extra day and see some of the sites with my mom and daughter.
This work trip got me thinking. It is funny how dairy producers’ idea of day off is to go visit other dairies or attend a board meeting or an annual convention. I was talking with a friend the other day. She was discussing her husband’s first day off from the dairy in over six months. How was he going to spend his big day off? He was attending the High Plains Dairy Conference. Exciting, I know (seriously, I was bummed I missed it this year). Once when I was a kid, my family took a two week vacation. We started in Southern California and drove all the way to Washington. I am sure when most people think of that trip, they imagine driving up the coast enjoying the views and hitting the hot spots like San Francisco. Nope, not my family. My parents thought it would be fun to take two kids (ages five and two) to every dairy in California, Oregon and Washington. One last example, my husband and I recently traveled to Chicago for the our co-op’s annual meeting. What to do the day after the meeting? Enjoy the day in the city? Again no. We rented a car and drove a couple hours down to Fair Oaks Farm to visit the new swine facility (hey, at least we changed it up from a dairy!).