A Dairy Farmer’s Devotion to Feeding Others
Carrie Mess became a dairy farmer the way a lot of people do—she married into it.
Though her husband wasn’t working on his family’s Wisconsin dairy farm when they met, they decided it would be a good place to begin their lives together. So, her career took a turn from sales and marketing to caring for and milking cows.
“It was something I thought I’d really love as an animal lover,” Mess said. She was right. Ten years later, she’s not only a dairy farmer but a leader in her community’s effort to end hunger. She’s involved in Second Harvest Foodbank of South Central Wisconsin, donating one acre’s worth of corn each year to hungry families and helping to raise money so milk is available at local foodbanks.
Mess took a moment to answer a few of our questions about life and farming. Here they are:
What is your earliest memory of dairy?
Growing up in Madison, it’s also the home of World Dairy Expo and I grew up on the road that World Dairy Expo is on. I remember going with my class and learning about the cows and loving that experience. It’s not like I was born in the barn, but gosh I sure remember those field trips. Cows are incredible. As I work with them now as a professional, they have such an amazing gift to take what we feed them and return food back to us. And they’re such cool creatures to learn from and understand.
In one sentence, how would you describe life on a dairy farm?
Always changing, always looking toward the future.
Which living person do you most admire?
Mike Rowe. I really appreciate his perspective on work and the work he’s doing to change the conversations we’re having about higher education and how it relates back to the American work ethic. Plus, he’s funny.
What is your current state of mind?
Optimistic. Dairy is a difficult job to be a part of right now. There’s a lot of moving pieces, there’s a lot of uncertainty for all of us, but I remain optimistic that we have a bright future.
What do you consider the most over-rated virtue?
Being on time. Yeah, that’s my answer.
What's something people don’t know about your life as a dairy farmer?
There is no black and white in dairy farming. We all want it to be this simple, understandable thing, and it’s not. I want people to understand that dairy farming is not just one thing. It’s an accumulation of so many skill sets, decisions and talents that come together to really make a successful dairy farmer and dairy farm.