Knolltop Farm Wife

Welcome to my blog! I'm a wife, mother of four and a self-employed freelance writer. I live on a dairy farm with my family and I enjoy sharing our life with family, friends and anyone else who wants to visit the farm. There's no telling what the I will write about from day to day, but hopefully you'll be enriched when you stop by! Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

My friend Julie

Good Sunny Morning from the springy Knolltop.

Okay, the heifer naming contest has a winner. But I have no prizes to offer...just a simple story.

Years ago while growing up, I had a great friend, Julie Robb. She and I were in 4-H together and then roomed in college together. I think I've written this all before, but I'm sure you're like've forgotten and so I will give you a refresher!

Julie grew up on a registered Holstein dairy just a few miles from me and she is the youngest of seven children. She and I spent a lot of time together at each other's farm and just had and still do have a great friendship. But Julie's dad, George, was a different story. In my eyes he was very intimidating. He mumbled and I had to really strain to understand him, his mumbling sounded mean and I was always afraid of him. We would sit at their big breakfast table and I would cringe everytime he spoke to me.

But for some reason I loved Julie's life and I wanted it. I wanted to be the one on a Holstein dairy, I wanted to go to the Holstein meetings and be a part of the Michigan Junior Holstein Association. When Julie came back from the National Holstein Convention in Tennessee and told all about the fun they had, I was green with envy and wanted to be a part of it. But I had my own path, I had my own cows and my family had a different kind of dairy farm.

While George was into marketing his Holstein genetics and was deeply embedded in the black and white world, my dad was more worried about getting milk from cows, no matter what the color. Convincing him that we could take a show string to the state fair and not have them come back with mastitis and no milk was like convincing Pharoh to let the Israelites go. But with my mom's help, we persuaded my dad to let us go and from them on, we went to every show we could....showing Ayrshires by the way.

Julie and I went to Michigan State and together we were in the Dairy Club and we did a lot together. But I was an animal science major and she was a food systems management major. When we left college, our lives took very different paths. I took a job as the editor of the Farmers' Advance and she went to Disney World and was part of hotel management. I married a fitter, the kind of guy we both drooled over during our show days and she married an Irishman who is a chef. When I became co-owner of a registered Holstein dairy farm, she moved to Chicago and began working in computer programming. I had four kids and she had two.

Today I am now on the path that I thought she would be on and she is on a different one. I'm now an advisor to the Michigan Junior Holstein Association and my son is on the board. Last month I was elected to the Michigan Holstein Association and next month I will have my first article published in the Holstein International magazine.

What would George think if he were still with us? Would he continue to mumble in my direction making me cringe like a silly little girl? Would he wonder how an Ayrshire girl got so involved in a black and white world? Or would he just smile and give us that silly laugh saying, "See, I told you you'd go further with Holsteins instead of those Ayrshires."

So in honor of my good friend Julie and her cow family of Rena, Rachel and Racquel, the crew at Knolltop Farm have officially named the newest heifer "Rachel."

Thanks Julie!


Anonymous said...

Hey Liss, What you didn't include in your story of a great friendship that has withstood the test of time and distance is why our dairy farm was so different. It was because we had 4 children and each one had a different idea about color so we ended up with registered Holsteins, Jerseys. Brown Swiss and, ofcourse my favorite, Ayshires. Your Dad would probably have settled for Plain black and white but we were both agreed that ours was an awful pretty herd to look at and very interesting to milk since we had such varied personalities to deal with. We could never have made all of you kids happy without AI which presentd us with a bunch of nice bulls to pick from. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

To the Knolltop family,
I am very honored that you chose the name Rachel for the newest heifer. Maybe I should have refreshed your memory Lissa, but my Rachel really liked to eat. She was a really tall, strong heifer with a wonderful disposition. I hope the new namesake will follow in those traits, but also have a lot of dairy character!

Melissa, what are you talking about? I think we both had a major case of the “grass is always greener” syndrome. I wanted to be a Peckens! As your mom stated, you kids got to pick your breed. Black and White was the ONLY option at our place. Plus, there were usually lambs and horses at your farm. Horses were nothing but “Hayburners” to my Dad. And then of course the ultimate, the Pecken’s farm had a really awesome swimming pool with a slide and diving board! I had a pond fed with cold springs, a mucky bottom and fish that thought your toes were bait! However, it is that mucky pond that is the site of one of the last precious memories of my Dad - when I was able to take him fishing with my boys the weekend before he passed.

That all being said, I do know that I was really blessed to have grown up on the “Rustic Herd” farm. While I had my differences with my Dad, I know that he always wanted us do our best - even if his delivery had a lot to be desired. My Mom was the steadying rock and continues to surprise us with her strength every day! I know that the opportunities experienced in those formative years have had a major impact on my adult life. People at work have commented about my memory and presentation style and I always think “That is a piece of cake compared to judging 10-15 classes of cattle and giving oral reasons hours later with no notes!”. Even though I live in the city now, I will always be a country girl at heart.

Thank you for taking me down memory lane. And to answer your question about what Dad would say . . . I know he would be very proud of the job you do promoting his beloved Holsteins. But he would definitely have the last word and say “It’s about time you took his advice, Holstein’s are the ONLY dairy cow, and if you want color – you breed a Red and White!” And yes, it would be delivered with his devilish grin and laugh!

Miss you lots Girlfriend!

Anonymous said...

Now that I am wiping my eyes, I think Julie needs to start her own blog, what beautiful writing, you two do, ditto to everything she said. Dad would be grinning from ear to ear. sis

roscoe said...

Showing the Black and Whites along with church and fair were the only opportunities we had to get off Robb Road way back in the 60's.
I enjoyed seeing pictures of your family, especially Ginny.
One of Eight!

Anonymous said...

Okay, who's Roscoe? I don't think you're the first of eight!


Anonymous said...