One of the things I love most about social media is all the different people that I get to “meet.” While I haven’t actually met a lot of them in person, I feel like I already know so much about them that if we ever do meet in person, it will be like we have known each other forever. I first discovered Kerry Wiebe’s blog, I Married a Milkman a couple of years ago and later found out that she is a friend of a friend of my husband’s aunt (If you can follow that!) The world of social media really is a small one. So, let’s get down to business and meet Kerry and her family and learn a little bit about their farm!
Q: Can you tell our readers a little bit about your farm?
A: My husband Daniel and our family live and work on our family farm, Keriel Dairy in Whitewater, Kansas. The name comes from “Ker” for Kerry and “iel” for Daniel. We are the third generation to milk cows on our farm that was established in 1926. We also farm 700 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat. The corn is grown for silage for the cows. We try to feed as much of what we grow to our cows. We along with Daniel’s folks, Delbert and Hazel, our 5 kids and 2 hired guys help keep the dairy running smoothly.
Q: Are there many other dairy farms in your area?
A: We live in the largest county in Kansas and we are the last remaining dairy farm in our county!
Q: Did you grow up on a farm?
A: I grew up on a hobby farm so there were many adjustments I had to get used to. The hours alone are something that takes a long time to get used to. Farming is NOT an 8-5 job. It is 7 days a week, 365 days a year, rain or shine, but you learn to adjust and that becomes your normal.
Q: Can you describe an average day in the life of a dairy farmer? Trust me, I know when farming there is no such thing as an “average day,” but just give our readers an idea of how crazy a farmer’s schedule can be.
A: There is never an average day on the farm. In fact, friends of ours have often said our lives would make a great reality show. The juggling alone is a bit crazy! What happens everyday no matter what is: the milkman gets up at 3:30 AM and is in the barn by 4:00 AM to milk the cows. The milking and feeding usually takes 3 hours in the morning. Animal care is a top priority here on our farm. Daniel makes sure that all our cows and calves are taken care of from nutrition in their diet to making sure our cows stay healthy by keeping their environment clean and tidy. We also host farm/school tours on our farm so that would take place after morning chores. If it is planting or harvest season then Daniel and his dad would head out to the field to take care of getting the crops in ground or harvesting them. There is always book work to be done. We keep records of each and every cow and calf on our farm so that we know what their pedigree is, how much milk a cow produces, or when they are due with their next calf, etc. At 3:30 PM the cows are brought back into the barn to be milked and fed along with any other evening chores that need to be done. Evening chores are usually completed by 6:00 PM. If it is planting or harvest season then Daniel might go out into the field until dark. There have been days when he has worked 16-18 hours straight. The field work is usually something that happens twice a year, but the taking care of and milking the cows is an everyday affair. Even in bad weather and when Daniel is sick, he is still in the barn. This job NEVER stops!
Q: What do you enjoy most about farming?
A: What I enjoy about farming is that it is a team effort. In all aspects of farming, our kids learn what hard work is and the value of a dollar. Whether or not they choose to be farmers when they become adults, they are learning life lessons everyday that will benefit them throughout their lifetimes.
Q: To follow-up from my previous question, what do you feel is the biggest benefit kids receive from growing up on a farm?
A: The biggest benefit I see is that kids receive from growing up on a family farm is a work ethic. A family farm is just that, it takes a family to run the farm. Everyone on the farm has a job and they work together as a team to make the farm successful.
Q: You sell bottled milk fresh from your farm. Can you tell us a little bit about the state regulations for selling raw milk?
A: In Kansas it is legal to sell raw milk on our farm, but we are not allowed to bring it to you. You have to come to our farm to pick it up. We have a little store in our barn that people can come and pick up some yummy goodness!
Q: The barn that you host events in is gorgeous! Can you share a bit of the history of the barn with our readers?
A: The milk barn has a hayloft above it. We have worked really hard to restore it to use for gatherings and events. We host a Barn Sale twice a year in the Spring and the Fall. We have vendors from all over that bring their arts and crafts, baked goods and antiques to sell. It is a fun family day on the farm. It is so fun to watch people when they see a cow for the first time. Everyone always says, “I didn’t realize they were so big!” And the kids always love to see the newest little calves.
“I realize that family owned dairy farms are becoming less prevalent in our communities. It is a job that is not for the faint of heart, but did you know that it is an economic value that communities need? For every $1.00 a dairy farmer spends, it locally generates $2.00. Every nine dairy cows employs one person in the community and every cow adds $25,000 to the local economy. We need farmers of all kinds in the world we live in just to have our basic needs provided. So, the next time you pour yourself a glass of milk to dunk your chocolate chop cookie in, remember it took eggs, flour, sugar, and milk to make that yummy snack, so thank a farmer as you enjoy!”
Visit Kerry’s blog, I Married a Milkman, to follow along with the day-to-day adventures on their Kansas dairy farm. You can also follow her on Instagram under the user name imarriedamilkman.