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BLOGS

Read online content from popular columnists including Ryan Dennis and Yevet Tenney, as well as comments from Progressive Dairy editor Karen Lee.

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My Wage
“I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.

For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.”

—Jessie B. Rittenhouse

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Several years ago, my friend brought me to her house in the suburbs. I can’t recall the rows of houses we passed to reach hers, only that it seemed indefinite because I couldn’t tell them apart.

Her car navigated the streets like a mole through rows of corn, and even from the passenger seat I had a sense of the rectilinear arrangement around us.

We pulled into her driveway and her family greeted me with handshakes and questions, leading me in a procession behind the house.

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When I was a child, time seemed to move like cooling taffy. There was plenty of time to play. There was time for long conversations on the front porch and around the dinner table.

There was time to make a quilt and time to embroider. There was time to visit with a friend and take a long walk in the forest.

Today it seems that time is crunched. We rush from one task to another with the complaint on our lips, “I don’t seem to get anything done.”

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Worldwide, most countries have seen the venture of dairy farming become more difficult these last few decades. The number of farms has decreased exponentially and margins have grown tighter.

The last handful of years have witnessed farmers expressing these frustrations, from dumping milk in the Bulgarian mountain passes to protesters spraying it on government buildings in Brussels.

In fact, it seems agriculture only intersects with the general media to show farmers communicating disappointment in the industry, doubt in their government’s motivation to provide fair conditions and a belief that any change that is possible in the sector is also slow and ineffective.

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I’ve always said farms are like snowflakes: There are no two alike.

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to see a lot of farms. When I started in this field about a decade ago, I probably should have begun a tally of every farm I visited. I’m guessing by now it would be in the hundreds.

Some of my most memorable visits are to farms in other parts of the country, or other countries, for that matter. Each region, climate, government, economy, etc. impacts how each dairy is set up and operated.

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