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A Day in the Life of a Dairy Farmer: Audrey Donahoe

January 03, 2013

I’m a fifth-generation dairy farmer from Frankfort, New York, located in the central region of our state.

My husband, Jeff, and I raised six children on the same land his family has worked on since the mid-1800s.

Our day starts at 4:30 in the morning, every day. It takes a lot of coffee and away we go!

We have a division of responsibilities on the farm. Some days, my kids do the laundry, other days they are in the barn. If it’s my day to go the barn, I do the milking and Jeff does the feeding. We’ll both check on the cows in the pasture.

Then, it’s back to putting on my mom hat–cooking, cleaning, laundry. Like you, I run errands. Only, I might drive to the local equipment dealership to get a replacement part for the tractor so my son or husband can repair it.

Like many businesses, we have daily management meetings. We meet to advance our family farm so we can pass it onto the next generation. We may discuss needing to make a change in our cows’ diets or talk about a cow we might need to keep an extra eye on.

We might discuss which cows need a pedicure on their hooves, which ones need a vaccination or how we will get the milking done and the animals fed on Saturday so we can make it to our daughter’s basketball game on time.

And, at the end of the day I’m a mediator because everyone’s pretty tired by then.

The important thing to remember is that 98 percent of our country’s dairy farms are family owned and operated. Every day on my family farm–and others like ours–we are milk marketers, accountants, mechanics, cow care specialists, taxi drivers, calf feeders, tractor drivers, crop and soil scientists, and more.

I’m also a mom and a wife who gets to do what I love every day–produce milk for my family and yours.

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