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Who Says You Can't Go Home? My Family

Are you going back to the family farm? I get this question A LOT.

Short answer: No, I’m not allowed. Wait, What? Keep reading if you want to learn why, or if you’d rather listen, I explain it in this podcast interview:

Fast Facts about my family farm:

  • Approx. 1,000 milking cows

  • Farms over 3,000 acres

  • Employs about 40

  • Made of up 3 generations

  • My grandparents started the farm in 1951

  • The second generation is my father and my uncle (each had 3 kids)

  • The third generation is my brother, sister, 2 cousins and 1 non-family member

When life started coming apart at the seams a few years ago, I went to Florida for some palm tree therapy. While there, my dad called me and asked WTH was I doing down there? I explained what had happened and he got very quiet and then asked, “Well, what are you going to do, Kate? Where are you going to go?” I answered tearfully, “I don’t know yet, dad. Can I come home?” He told me he was going to have to run it by the family and they would vote on it.

VOTE ON IT?! People ask this incredulously when I try to explain. Yes, vote on it. You see, when someone mentions the word “farm” or “farming”, most think of the animals, the chores, etc. What people overlook or sometimes forget is that farms are BUSINESSES first. This had been drilled into my brain since as long as I can remember growing up on the dairy. My dad and uncle made sure we all understood that while farming can be fun, at the end of the day, you have to make a profit, just like any other business in order to keep going.

Dad called me the next day and told me that the family had voted that I, nor my cousin Jenn, could return. Jenn and I are both the oldest of our families and had left the farm years ago. This decision made it equal for both sides of the family. My family farm is very structured and has always had a succession/transition plan in place. I’m proud of them for keeping it up to date, to ensure that the farm our grandparents started, is viable for future generations.

Was I upset? Of course I was; for like 48 hours. At that point in my life, I think it just hurt more than anything. But I quickly reminded myself that it’s a business first. They didn’t make that decision to spite me. They did it to protect the business and what had already been set in place.

HOWEVER…my dad has always reminded us that, “Nothing is more constant than change”. Could things change down the road? Will there perhaps be a future opportunity in some capacity for my cousin and I to return? Possibly. Maybe. But for now, I’m enjoying what I’m doing and helping out when and where I can, when I go home to visit.

My cousin, Jennifer and I. We are both the oldest of each of our families and had left the farm to pursue other things years ago.

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I’m sorry for your answer from the family. l understand your trying to find what you can do now. When living on our farm in Rough and Ready as a teenager I was tired of hoeing, planting, weeding, picking-and going along on market route Long trip. The depression only half the income was discouraging. So at 16 I started at PSU. I hurried through my years going faster 3 semesters a year during War years. But I met the love of my life (Ralph Dotterer at a church Cabin party) and the last words I told my parents was, If I ever talk about marring a farmer, give me a good swift kick! We were on our way with my…

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