Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dairy Farming - Life at the Bottom...

This is Isaac's new little bull calf. It's so cute with it's odd markings.

In the January 5th issue of a New York paper, the results were printed. Dairy farming is one of the worst jobs there is, in fact, it was #199 of 200 professions with only lumberjacks coming in lower. They based this on environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands, and stress.

Arthur and I heard this on the radio and later in a farm magazine and shook our heads. The environment might seem harsh being out in the elements, and dangerous being exposed to chemicals, but it neglects to tell how nice it is working in the sunshine, beautiful fall and spring days, and the joy of being in a warm barn when it's cold outside. It neglects the fact that most farmers are extremely cautious about chemicals and I don't know of many who've gotten hurt more by them than a guy that works in a factory. Plus, you can't get a better environment when you work with your family, control what's on the radio, and control who you work with.

Income. Okay, so farmers don't make it in the top income bracket. Farmers do get to control methods of making money though and if a persons income isn't enough and they really desire more, and have time,they can get more cows or cut corners, unlike an office worker who might desire more money. It's interesting that when farmers started working on Sunday's, more than the required milking, the prices went down. That started back in the 80's, before that, farming was a very profitable money maker. (That is just my personal opinion on the matter)

Employment Outlook. Often with the increasing regulations we wonder if it will be even possible to run a family dairy in the future but for now, there's always work to do and most farmers I know would love to hire a hired hand. No, they wouldn't get paid good so I guess that might be a drawback!

Physical Demands. Yes, farming has got to be one of the most physically demanding jobs there is but exercise is good for a person. You don't see too many overweight dairy farmers! Beef or grain maybe but not dairy. It's also very physically demanding because you work seven days a week, 365 days a year unless you have someone who really knows what they're doing take over for a day or two. Even on Sunday's when the guys do the bare minimum, it still takes about five hours total. However, it might be good for Americans to spend a few hours a day cleaning barn or feeding hay.

Stress. Yes, there's stress on the farm. It might rain on your cut hay, a cow might drop dead, the prices might tumble (like they are, which means cheese and milk should get cheaper in the store), the tractor might break down, and you might get mauled by a bull. But hey, what job doesn't have stress? Even stay at home mothers have stress!

The country might think dairy farmers are at the bottom of the ladder but life at the bottom isn't that bad! Most people that find out we dairy farm sigh, and then go on to say what a good place it is to raise kids and how they wish they could farm or how they enjoyed it when they were young. Interesting. So, we might be exposed to pipecleaner detergent, poor, overworked, tired, have sore muscles, and be under stress, but we won't be quiting any time soon for office jobs. God put it in man to work with the ground and I think that's why we see people take such pains to have perfect lawns in the city, why everyone wants a garden tractor, and why men wear flannel shirts when they visit our farm. Guess that's why our blog's "motto" at the top is, "Where God is served, and life is good."


  1. AMEN!!! :) As a farmer's wife I would have to agree...we have different challenges since we do crop farming but not the dairy stuff, but still, at the end of the day, most of the things you said ring true for us too. :) Great post!!

  2. EXCELLENT ARTICLE! For three years Stacey-jean and I lived in the "small end" of the farmhouse of Leonard and Edith Zimmerman, a dairy farming, old order Mennonite couple with 12 children. Yes, the hours were early, the summers brutal and the winters rigorous, but he was one of the most warm-hearted, contented men I ever met. He almost always had one of the little ones on the tractor with him; there was plenty of space for them to get in trouble, out of trouble and into hard work. Thanks for bringing a smile to our hearts.
    Brent Inion

  3. No matter what statistics say - it;s the best place to live, work and raise a family and I culdn't imagine any other life. Praise God we are dairy farmers! Like someine told me years ago, farmers may not have a lot of money, but they always have plenty to eat and their kids know how to work!
    Fun post.


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