Commentary: Thanks for 21 great years

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“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.” – Mark Twain

I have actually thought what it would be like to work on a fishing ship, since I love the ocean. But then I discovered that commercial fishermen have one of the highest fatality rates of any occupation.

I am still going to “sail away from the safe harbor.”

After 31 years at my company — 21 as editor of Dairy Herd Management — I have decided to try new things.

It’s been a great run. I have truly enjoyed serving the information needs of dairy farmers. I have had the privilege of going to hundreds of farms, seeing great innovations, and then sharing that information with tens of thousands of readers every month.

This is my 257th editorial — a chance to pass along a few final observations (and maybe a few life lessons).

  • You can do most anything you want to do in life if you set your mind to it. I didn’t grow up on a farm — my dad worked for radio and TV stations in the Omaha and Kansas City areas. But that didn’t stop me from getting an agricultural journalism degree, then 10 years writing for hog producers and swine veterinarians and 21 years writing for dairy farmers.
  • I am leaving while at the top of my game. That is a lesson that others might want to consider in their jobs. Don’t stick around like former quarterback Brett Favre did and have people remember you on the down-side of a career.
  • Dairy farmers are wonderful people, always willing to help. Over the years, I have gone on numerous road trips, calling ahead to farms and asking if I can visit while in the area. Ninety-nine percent of the time the farm says “yes.” And the farms are very open to sharing information.
  • Farmers have a great story to tell. Maybe I have looked at farms through rose-colored glasses over the years, since I didn’t grow up on one, but I have always found them to be safe havens or sanctuaries. Be sure to share your stories with the outside world. Consumers look to you as a trusted source of information about where their food comes from.

On Dec. 10, I braved 12-degree weather (and even colder wind chills) on a farm tour near Green Bay, Wis., and again observed all of these things at work. One of the farmers we visited, Ray Diederich, explained his robotic milking stations with enthusiasm, and at one point I asked him what he likes best about being a dairy farmer. He said he likes the accomplishment of sending a quality product down the road and he also loves trying new things like the robotic milking stations and the cross-ventilated barn where the robots are located.

After hearing people say they like trying new things, I decided to try it for myself. I believe my mind can take me anywhere I want to go, so I am looking forward to new adventures.

Thanks, again, for 21 great years!

Tom Quaife

(Can now be reached at

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David Skaggs    
Pierre, South Dakota  |  December, 30, 2013 at 09:11 AM

Tom, well said my friend. Congratulations on the new direction, you will always be a sucess. Thank you for reporting and telling the story of the American dairymen and women in our industry. Your support will never be forgotten.

Austin, Texas  |  December, 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Tom, Congratulations on a terrific career at Vance Publishing and all the best as you 'sail away from the safe harbor'!

Sandy Stauffer    
New York  |  December, 30, 2013 at 01:23 PM

It's been great getting to know you and to travel a bit with you. Compassion and integrity show through in everything you do.

Steve Washburn    
Raleigh, North Carolina  |  December, 30, 2013 at 09:42 PM

Well done Tom; We will miss you but I am sure new challenges and opportunities await.

Darlene Wittmeyer    
Western NY  |  December, 31, 2013 at 07:30 AM

Thank you Tom for the terrific job over your career. Your insight and opinions have always encouraged me to think "outside of the box." Best wishes as continue on your new adventure. You have been an inspiration and I will miss your editorials. Happy New Year 2014.

Kent Nelson    
Western Mexico  |  December, 31, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Tom, Your "words" have made an impact on our industry, thank you. Thanks also to the internet I am still able to receive and enjoy digital DHM. Sail our way someday.

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