Why Mothers Make Good Dairy Famers

I truly believe that being a dairy farmer makes me a better mother and the other way around. In many cultures, women will not allow men to care for dairy cows. A friend of mine works for Land O Lakes and takes volunteer assignments to very under developed areas of the world. His assignment is to help build the community’s dairy industry to help them improve their health. When he was assigned to Uganda, he was required to bring his wife, because the women there would not take dairy advice from a MAN. This makes perfect sense to me:

Only a mother/woman:

  1. Can sympathize with the other “ladies” that an annual examine/or preg check doesn’t feel that great, but is a necessary evil of life to stay healthy.
  2. After changing thousands of diapers,  would know the difference between sandy brown and mustardy brown poop (manure) and know that one is good and the other means trouble.
  3. Would have a real understanding of how painful mastitis is and know the peppermint cream REALLY DOES WORK!!
  4. Have a built in maternal instinct to care for other babies (even if they are of different species).
  5. Understands that cold hands are not pleasing.
  6. Can know how another “lady” is feeling without exchanging a single word.
  7. Understands that when the heifers (teenagers) get out they are only acting their age.
  8. Could understand what it is like to work full time and be 8 months pregnant.
  9. Knows the “relief” being milked brings.
  10. Understands that  bigger doesn’t always equal better when it comes to mammary systems.

I started working on this post last night and wasn’t really into it. So to take a break, I started catching up on the other blogs I follow. Organic Valley has a blog and the latest post was titled: Food Wisdom and the Feminine: Mother’s Instinct Feeds the World. Fellow OV farmer Regina Beilder talks about the experiences she and her husband had volunteering in developing nations. She writes:

This spring, a pair of killdeer made their ground nest along the pathway that leads from the barn to the pasture.  Every day as the cows went lumbering by, the small, brown mother killdeer stared down the huge bovines passing and spread her wings and tail feathers protectively over her two eggs. We admired the instincts that must be at play in her mind as she stood her ground and provided care, nurturing and protecting her children.

I believe that mothers everywhere share these same instincts. Protecting and feeding one’s children is the most basic task of mothers and one that drives the importance of women’s involvement in agriculture around the world. This is particularly true in the developing world, where money is short and there are few choices for food acquisition outside what the family can grow and prepare themselves.

Back in May, OV staff Theresa Marquez and Jerome McGeorge wrote the first blog in the Food Wisdom and Famine stories. This post gives a great overview of the history of women as food providers and how world wide women play a role in this vital task.

We humans have been eating forever. For all of us food and nutrition begins in the womb. Our mother connects us with our first food memories. For a woman, what is more satisfying than feeding family and friends a delicious meal? The link between feminine and food goes very far back, millions of meals ago. During the Neolithic period after 9000 BCE, humans, guided by feminine botanical wisdom, tamed our natural, wilder selves into a more secure domestication, a more human-directed cultural order. Horticulture was born as Homo sapiens began to settle into village cultures based upon food security (aka: “grow your own”). Women provided most of the calories as gatherers and horticulturists, as men hunted for meat and seafood.

Today, women are playing a vital role in food and farming; however, if we are to feed the world, it becomes more and more imperative that women’s involvement in food security increase exponentially. Worldwide, women make up more than half of the agricultural work force…Yet the marketplace determinants devalue this labor and under-capitalize feminine potential.

Women’s roles in agriculture are very interesting to me. It is very exciting that the number of women farm operators are increasing in the United States. I give my husband a lot of grief when I tell him, there is no way he could understand what a cow is feeling, but there is some truth to the statement. There are just somethings he will never understand.


Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com