Eleven years ago, I joined Walnut Grove Farms. As a wife. A family member. And a partner. In the past 11 years we’ve weathered changes. Natural disasters. The return of college graduates. The birth of the fourth generation of the farm. Differences of opinions. Advances in technology. And growth.
Shortly after my husband and I announced our engagement, a fire consumed our 120-cow stanchion milking barn immediately prior to the evening milk shift. Along with our friends and family, we relocated our entire dairy herd to an empty farm several miles down the road.
As ashes settled and embers cooled, we opted to continue our family’s legacy with some minor changes. We added a parallel-double-eight milking parlor and a 150-cow barn with the best technology we could afford at the time.
With more cows came wrinkles and more buildings until one hot evening in 2005. As the summer drought continued to crispy-fy lawns, mine included, one tractor backfire started a stack of hay bales on fire and within the hour we lost five buildings.
As ashes settled and embers cooled, we inventoried our losses and began to rebuild. Where an aging garage once stood now stands a quarter acre shop with hydraulic airplane doors, large enough for a combine to “do donuts”. Again, we added the best technology we could afford at the time.
As the years past, our farm grew. We added cows. Family members. Farmland. And buildings until an F1 tornado picked up our cow barn, spun it and dropped it just west of where it originally stood while my husband (stupidly) watched. The summer of 2008 was once again marred with a construction project. In the end we built a 360-cow barn with the best technology we could afford at the time.
Throughout the years our farm has added land. Cows. Technology. And differences of opinions. What’s remained consistent is our determination to grow healthy foods. Maintain and improve the health and comfort of our animals. And to ensure that we’re protecting the environment in order for our blue-eyed girl to one day follow her dad and grandpa asking them if she’s big enough to milk cows. Drive a tractor. Or pick corn just like her dad did before her.
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