Learning on the Farm

Rita's DaughterJune Dairy Month is an annual celebration that began in 1937 and serves as a time to reflect on dairy foods and the industry that makes it possible.  First created as a way to help distribute extra milk when cows started on pasture in the summer months, June Dairy Month’s rich history continues today, with communities, companies and people from all over the country recognizing it in a variety of ways.  In fact, it’s one time of year when many people learn more about dairy farming because they take advantage of the many on-farm dairy celebrations taking place.

Rita's SonOne of the farmers featured on Minnesota Farmers Feed US is a blogger.  Rita Vander Kooi, Worthington, blogs at soshemarriedafarmer, and she’s just one of the people who loves to help people learn, whether it’s June Dairy Month or not.  Here’s one of Rita’s June Dairy Month blogs.

School is out!  Yet, as a mom and a dairy farmer, teaching all year long is a passion of mine.  My two favorite audiences are 1.)  my kids and 2.) anybody who would like to tour our farm.

“Learning by Doing” is a slogan I learned in my days in 4-H, and I apply it each and every day with my family here at Ocheda Dairy, our farm with more than 1,000 cows in southwestern Minnesota.  We just recently started a project in our family – my 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter are responsible for the care of two young calves.  They love it!

Caring for young calves gives my kids an immeasurable amount of pride.  Anyone who stops by our yard just HAS to follow my kids to the calf pen.  If the timing is right, perhaps a visitor may get an opportunity to feed a bottle of milk.

Helping large tour groups to our dairy to get as involved is a lit bit trickier.  Thankfully, this past spring, I was able to add an interesting twist.  We just expanded our barn and had a pen that was completed but still didn’t have cows in it.  So, when giving tours, we all pretended to be a cow.  Explaining all of the features we add to our barns to keep the cows as comfortable as possible is so much easier when actually viewing it as the cows do.

“Learning by Doing” and the activities it involves are always changing here at the farm, but the one constant that we strive for is learning along the way.  We are so proud to open our doors to visitors and dream that one day, our kids will carry on these traditions on our farm. 

This entry was posted in General Information, Midwest Dairy Association. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Learning on the Farm

  1. Bruce and Jan Steinhaus says:

    Hi Rita- my husband was a DHIA Supervisor in the 1950’s in your area. He remembers testing on a Ben Vanderkooi farm. Would this be a grandfather of your husband?? We live in Waterville Mn. now and he would really like to come and see your place sometime.

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