GUEST BLOGGER - May Challenge: D is for Dairy

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Meet Tristan Zuber!

Showing cows at the local fair with my father!  Circa 1991
Former royalty is guest blogging today…. Yes – this is the 2004 Genesee County Dairy Princess here to write about nothing else but -- DAIRY.  I remember back to those days when I was selected to be the county dairy princess and I was so proud to represent the dairy industry, and more importantly – my family and the way that I grew up.

I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Western N.Y.  When I was first born, my father had approximately 200 cows.  Since I could walk, I helped by feeding the calves, milking cows on Sunday nights and keeping my dad company while driving tractors until the sun went down on cool spring nights.  

Crowning the 2014 Genesee County Dairy Princess!
Eventually, dad decided to grow the business and bought cows from neighboring farms that wanted to go out of business.  Many of these farmers were becoming older and did not have family that wanted to take over the business.  Farming is tough work and cows do not take vacations!  You work seven days a week, 365 days a year and sometimes 16-hour days.  There are not too many jobs out there that have similar work environments.  That said, I would not change my childhood for anything in the world.  It provided me with a strong work ethic, responsibility, independence and austerity.

As we started growing the business, we hired more people and improved technology to assure that our cows received the same care as when we were milking 200 cows.  Our farm currently milks 2,200 cows.  My dad and uncle own the business and my brother is back on the farm, along with his wife and four children.  With more family members involved, tasks are split up more efficiently and there is an opportunity to have a day off once in a while.  

Nephews knawing on sweet corn fresh from the filed
Today, only 2% of the U.S. population is involved with agriculture that feeds our nation’s 319 million people (plus many more around the world.)  Many U.S. citizens are 2-3 generations distant from any sort of agriculture.  As a result, there are a numerous amount of misconceptions on agriculture and dairy farming. These range from what is the most humane way to raise animals for consumption; Are GMO’s safe and really environmentally friendly?; Is dairy truly healthy?; Are all farms corporately owned now?; Or – is Organic better for you?

To address these questions, I encourage you to reach out to the farmers or dairy princesses around you and learn more about where the food on your dinner table actually comes from.  Farmers love to tell their story, answer questions and will be up front and honest.  Farming is not only a business, but it is also a lifestyle. Whether crop farming, dairy farming, or pig farming – farmers understand that the better the land or animals are treated – the more it/they will give back.  As Paul Harvey said, on the eighth day, God Made a Farmer.

Interested in being a guest blogger for this year's May A-Z Series or know someone you think would be a great addition to this year's posts? Click here to email me asking for more details. Be brave! Take "write a blog" off your bucket list. Share your artwork, write a poem, showcase your photography -- Take Your Pic loves it all!! 

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