by dairy farmer Nancy Franzen
As June Dairy Month moves along, I can’t help but think how ironic it is that we devote one of the busiest months of the year to the dairy industry and to honoring fathers. June is filled with crazy schedules of finishing up planting, making first or second crop hay, managing yard work, spraying the fields, tending to calves, getting cattle moved to summer pastures, milking two to three times a day, attending ball games and end-of-the-school-year programs for the kids, and volunteering at dairy promotion activities, such as parades and county fairs.
More than 9,000 Midwest dairy farmers, many of whom are dads, are busy ensuring wholesome, nutritious milk is available to families now and for future generations. If any dad has earned the right for a day off it would be them! The dads on our farm, including my husband, Dean, and our employees, are amazing for their dedication and commitment to fostering a healthy planet and to working every day, even on Father’s Day. So, I’d like to salute all dairy farm families who push through the busy season and find time to honor dad in their own special way while providing milk to feed the nation.
This year, June Dairy Month and Father’s Day are especially important for our family. It will be the first June Dairy Month and Father’s Day without my father-in-law LeRoy; he passed away last June. We will remember and honor all he contributed to our family and farm. LeRoy’s father purchased the farm in 1913, eventually passed it along to LeRoy, who later sold it to my husband. My husband hopes to sell our more than 100-year-old farm to our sons someday. Given the love and excitement our boys possess for farming already, I am sure we will see that dream come true.
Of course behind many successful dairy farmers is a strong dairy farming wife. As a dairy farmer’s wife, my role on the farm is one that requires the ability to think on my feet, go with the flow and help get the job done. Having grown up on a hog farm, I never realized the chameleon-like ability that a dairy farmer’s wife must have to keep things running smoothly. During June Dairy Month, I often think about the woman who helped me become a strong dairy farming wife. My mother-in-law, JoAnn, was an exceptional role model to illustrate the profound ability it would take to support my husband and family and grow the success of our dairy farm. She is the master of having a hot meal on the stove, fresh baked goods on the counter and a knack to offer sound advice. She would do all of this knowing that she had two milkings a day to attend to and assist the kids with calf chores. Her yard was always neatly mowed with beautiful flowers that bloomed throughout the farm. Often times, after the kids were in bed, she would sit down to pay bills and gather her thoughts for the next day of field work lunches, farm records and kids’ book reports. She would turn around to clean the house for the day, head to bed and do it all over again. When I wonder how she managed to keep her head above water, she simply smiles knowing her faith in God and commitment to Sunday church gave her the strength to keep pushing through.
I am so grateful for the example she has led and continues to lead even in retirement. Now the magic torch has been passed on to me as I carry it with honor, and hope that it will continue to shine as brightly as hers did for 40 years on the farm. I am grateful to be a part of a lifestyle that keeps me busy and prevents my kids from ever saying, “I’m bored.”
We work together, we love each other, and we know that we have to give it our all every day because “half a job is not a job.” Here’s to another 100 years of dairy farming with pride, from our family farm to yours.
Bio: Nancy Franzen and her husband, Dean, own and operate a dairy farm in northeast Iowa. They currently milk about 140 Holstein and Brown Swiss dairy cows with Dean’s brother and other farm hands. Nancy spends her days working at Farm Bureau Financial Services as a sales associate. She enjoys the opportunities her career offers her to provide sound insurance advice and financial planning to her customers and the farming community.
Nancy and Dean have been married and farmed together for 15 years. They have two amazing sons, Isaac and Ryan, who spend their time helping on the farm and following in their dad’s footsteps. Franzen Dairy Farm is proud to be part of the Midwest dairy farming community, helping to feed the nation healthy, quality dairy foods from their farm.