Sjostrom: Keep the road open

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Editor's note: This article originally ran in the July 2014 issue of Dairy Herd Management.

Can you imagine not having a driveway to your farm? I can, after experiencing the winter of 2013-2014. This winter was complete with snow, ice and cold on our Minnesota dairy farm, but we were lucky the worst days didn’t collide with our every-other-day milk pickups. No driveway means no truck, and no truck means lost opportunity.

Our family farm is located in central Minnesota’s Stearns County. As of 2012, Stearns ranked 22nd in the country for milk produced. We moved to my wife’s home farm nearly two years ago, after four years in Vermont and Wisconsin. We made the decision so we could raise our daughter on the farm, start a farmstead cheese plant (cheese is the passion for my wife, Alise), and possibly begin a career as dairy farm owners.

I also grew up in Minnesota, a two-hour drive south of where we live now. Luckily for Alise and me, her parents kept the driveway open, and the opportunity to come home existed when our daughter was born. We both worked off-farm to start. Alise worked for an artisan cheese company until focusing on starting up our own on-farm processing center. I started in graduate school at the University of Minnesota, where my research focuses on precision dairy technology on a mixed compost barn, drylot, grazing and half-organic dairy. I hope to complete the program this winter.

As you might understand, we were all kinds of busy when Dairy Herd Management was seeking an assistant editor a few months ago. At first, I pushed it off. But, in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to get back to writing. I realized the road might close if I didn’t take this turn. After consulting with a supportive family, an understanding graduate adviser and – most importantly – a very patient wife, I talked to Editor Dave Natzke about his philosophy. I started May 19.

The situation reminds me that there’s always an opportunity, we just might not be looking for it. I’m reminded of a dairy farmer I met whose website featured a picture of his pasture. It led to a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial when a needy director was looking for a filming location.

Building on the past

Dave and I are both new to this publication, but we both hold many previous dairy industry experiences. We hope to build on the strong history of Dairy Herd Management to improve and grow the print magazine.

In addition, part of my focus will be on the digital offerings you can find at www.DairyHerd.com. There, you can subscribe to our daily e-newsletter – the best in the business. Or, stay tuned with our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts. Think of the digital news as our online driveway to instant information.

My email inbox (lsjostrom@vancepublishing.com), Twitter account (@Lucas_DairyHerd) and physical driveway are all open should you have comments or questions about Dairy Herd Management content. My office is above the parlor; you’re welcome to stop by and taste some cheese.

See a Farm tour with Lucas Sjostrom from Vance Publishing on Vimeo.

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