Today I broke down and cried… no, not because I had a bad day, or because someone said mean things. I got home from work, and like any other day, I got on Facebook and started scrolling. As I did, my heart began to sink. Friend after friend started changing their profile picture frames to “I support dairy farmers”. And every couple posts I see news articles about suicide prevention for dairy farmers. I cried because this is something so special and something so close to my heart. Dairy farming is my entire world. That’s my passion. That’s what I love. That’s me. I cry because I’m scared for our future. I cry because my family is a victim of this country failing our dairy farmers. I cry because I lived through the pain of losing MY farm and cows. And now I’m seeing it happen to the rest of the dairy farming community.
December 11, 2015 – the worst day of my entire life. My dreams of raising/breeding show cows? GONE. My dreams of taking over my family farm someday? GONE. My dreams of having a family and rising my future kids on my dairy farm? GONE. My entire world that day…. GONE. On that foggy, rainy, dreary day, we sold all 90 of our cows. The night before, we had family and friends over for the final milking to help out. As truck and trailers pulled into our driveway, to load the cows my heart broke into a million pieces. Imagine walking your favorite cow onto a trailer, knowing that you weren’t going to a show, shaking and crying uncontrollably. Now imagine loading all 90 of them in the same night. When that milk pump shut off for the final time, my dad and I hugged each other for what felt like hours. Crying and sobbing. The day of the sale, I gave a speech, and I couldn’t even get through the first sentence without getting a lump in my throat. We came home to an empty barn. Nothing left but each other. And that next week, we sold the house and barn that my brothers and I were raised in. Within the next month, we moved into our new house. We had to adjust to a new life. I cannot even begin to explain how bad my family hurt. And the sad truth is, we still hurt every single day.
I don’t know what it’s going to take to turn our dairy industry around… I quite honestly don’t know if it will ever turn around. But what I’m asking my friends and family to do, is PLEASE pray for our country’s dairy industry. Please pray for these farmers who struggle each day they wake up. Please pray that these suicide rates go down, as farmers are on the top of the highest suicide rate list. Please pray for comfort for the families dealing with this. It is not easy. I’m writing this post so my non-farming friends can understand the pain we’re all going though. This is real life. This is the raw truth. Small family farms are shutting down. You should be scared and worried.
To my fellow dairy farmers, it will be ok. There is life after dairy farming. It will be the hardest thing you ever go through, but always remember Dr. Seuss one said, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. Not everyone gets the opportunity to grow up and live on a dairy farm, but you did…. appreciate it. If you’re still farming, take in every little thing you can… Don’t complain about milking the cows, or being out late and not eating supper on time. Take your kids to that show they so desperately wanna go to. Take pictures, pet your cows. Go on walks around your farm, take in the beauty of what it has to offer… because someday, it may be gone within a blink of an eye. You want memories…. because that’s all I have now, and all I can do is drive by and let those memories flood my mind.
I will ALWAYS fully support the dairy industry, because it has given so much to me. I am beyond grateful. I love you all and will forever stand by your side through this. #SupportDairyFarmers #PrayForTheDairyIndustry
Kalyn is from central Pennsylvania, her parents (Chad & Tonya Renninger) bought their first herd of cows in February of 2000. They rented on 2 farms before buying what they called home in 2006. She has 2 brothers, Kaleb & Colby, that were also heavily involved with the family farm. Kalyn showed dairy cows and dairy feeders in 4-H from age 8-18. Her passion is raising and showing Lineback dairy cattle. Due to financial reasons and the low price of milk, her family had to sell their farm and cows on December 11, 2015. Kalyn is pictured above with the highest selling lot at their sale “Three Rivers Amazing Ava”, the first show cow she bred and owned.