Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

Show whites represent dedication to dairy farming

on December 21, 2018

This Column was originally Published in Agweek July 6, 2018

This past winter, our hearts were broken when Everett’s beloved cow 304 passed away. It was difficult to say goodbye to her. Everett was only 3 years old when he walked 304 as a winter calf into the ring for the very first time. 304 taught Everett more than I could have ever imagined.


304 was not a show cow for show-ring standards, but it was outside the ring where she taught Everett about dedication and trust. Everett was dedicated to her, and she trusted Everett. One year when Nate’s and my pride got in the way trying to talk Everett out of taking her to the county fair, Everett simply replied, “I won’t go then. If she doesn’t go I don’t go.” No whining, no crying — just firmly stating he will stand by his cow no matter what.


Everett age 3, with his father, Nate, and 304 at the Morrison County Fair in 2012.

Everett and Nathan with 304 at the Morrison County Fair 2012

This is the heart of every dairy farmer, the dedication to their farms and families. So when we had to say our goodbyes to 304, it was heartbreaking for our entire family.

Everett’s heart began to become whole again this past week. Everett walked into the ring with 304’s daughter, Lady Wilt, at the Dairy Days Dairy Show in Brainerd, Minn. A new chapter had begun for our young son. He proudly walked into the ring with Lady Wilt wearing 304’s show halter. Many years ago we had 304 and Everett’s names stamped into the leather.

As I watched him, I noticed his show whites. In dairy shows the handlers wear all white. Every summer the questions comes up “Why do they wear white? As soon as they put them on they get so dirty!”

This time as Everett walked slowly into the ring, I saw each smudge on his pants and shirt differently. I saw how many times his big heart has been hurt. I saw the four times Everett grew with excitement waiting patiently each time 304 had a calf. I saw how many times his heart grew with more joy when 304 finally had a heifer calf and it was red! I saw how many times his patience was tried in the yard working with his animals. I didn’t see or think “How am I going to get that out?”

I saw how many times he fell asleep beside me with the rumble of the tractor during planting and harvest. How he was so tiny in the barn during milking time and now he rode his bike down the aisle telling me a new story or plan. I began to think of how dairy farmers are struggling no matter how hard they work.

Show whites get dirty and smudged. They are worn proudly representing all the hard work, love and dedication that goes into dairy farming. Each smudge represents something much bigger than just dirt. Show whites represent how much work it takes to get ready for an animal to walk into the ring. They represent how much trust it takes to be a dairy farmer — the faith it takes to believe it will get better.

Everett and Lady Wilt at Brainerd Dairy Day Show 2018

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