What is your role in agriculture?
I am a dairy farmer. I used to say I was a dairy farmer’s wife but I now see myself as a partner in the business. When my children were young I was more of a bench player. Now, I do the office work, some field work, help with animal care and many other aspects when needed. One of the most important things I do is to encourage and show appreciation to those who are helping us along the way. I leave pots of chili, bar-b-q, and other goodies in the lunch room.
What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?
Righteous anger was my initial inspiration for agvocating. Listening to special groups and celebrities “sharing” their misguided and false opinions while watching my sons and husband work so hard really got to me. My three sons have herniated and bulging discs in their backs. They work 16 hour days at times and I have been called to ride along at midnight when trying to finish a field before rain – just to keep someone awake. When we put so much of ourselves into something so important and worthy it’s heartbreaking to hear someone distort and basically lie about it.
What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?
Sharing. We opened our farm to tours many years ago and it changed my inspiration from anger to excited passion to show and tell. When visitors started asking why and how and we explained we could see their views of farming more accepting. They began to understand and see the truth. I love striking up conversations whenever I can. When I see someone in the store with dairy products such as milk I will start the conversation with “I see you are buying milk. I really appreciate it because I’m a dairy farmer.” Nine times out of ten I get a great response with many questions. And I end it with an invitation to visit our farm.
I also love to blog and share our story – make it personal. I enjoy sharing pictures of real life on the farm. God shows up, and I snap and shoot the beauty of the land and the wonder of his critters.
What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?
The hardest part for me is feeling as if I am educated enough. There are so many facets to farming that I have a hard time keeping up with every one. My main goal is simple. Speak from my heart, share what I know. I share it all – the good, the bad, the messy and the wonders. And, when asked something I’m not sure of I point them to Ask The Farmers Facebook page.
What advice do you have for other farmers or ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?
I would encourage you to watch for opportunities to share what you do. It’s amazing how people will take the words spoken by celebrities – over the experts who live and work in the business. And one of the reasons is because those false voices are louder than ours. We need to speak up and speak out. More and more decisions are being made that make it harder to produce. One of the things I always try to remind people when speaking about the farm is that we as farmers produce very safe and economical food sources and it gets harder all the time to accomplish that.
What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or twitter chat?
To be totally honest I don’t engage because I am a techy failure – HA! I read and follow somewhat and I am amazed at the knowledge of others.
What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?
AgChat is a wonderful source of encouragement and information. I can hear the voices of brothers and sisters in the trenches. I can see and feel hope and inspiration. It’s a boost when I am weary and a wonderful page to get lost in.
Diane went from city girl to farm girl during a short walk down the marriage aisle. She has been farming with her 3rd generation Farmer for 44 plus years. She’s raised 4 amazing young men and shows her love to her daughters-in-law and eight Wigglies by cooking and baking. After church Sunday dinners in her home with the whole family is where she is most content. Diane takes care of the book work and helps wherever needed on the farm. She loves to blog – to be real – sometimes at her family’s chagrin. Diane also shares farm, family and faith on a weekly radio spot called “Random Ramblings of. . .” on WHTC talk radio in Holland, MI.