The cows chose me, you could say. I was born into the family legacy of heritage grazing cattle, and I’ve never known life without them.

            I grew up walking through the pastures in my father Kenneth’s footsteps, learning to feed calves with my mother Winifred’s help. There are so many good memories of childhood wrapped up with the Dutch Belted and Milking Shorthorn cattle that are my family’s livelihood.

            When I was about six, I stood on an upturned bucket in the milking parlor beside my father and learned to hand milk Starberry, a patient old Dutch Belted cow. As soon as I was big enough, I was leading calves around and happily telling people at county fairs about the cows. My family recounts how I would enthusiastically say, “Don’t ya like cows?”

            The pedigrees, constant discussions about sires and cattle selection, the long conversations my father had with fellow cattlemen—all of these are daily life when you grow up the daughter of dairy breeders.

A little girl and her father in cow pasture
Here’s two-year-old me with my daddy in the pasture.

            My father left a rich legacy when he passed away 14 years ago, and I want to carry on where he left off. His work was preserving rare, valuable genetics for the future, and he respected those countless breeders who came before and handed down the cattle to him. I see it in the handwritten comments on bookmarks tucked inside the cattle books he read so carefully, and I see it in the lovely red, white, roan, and belted cattle grazing in the pasture.

            I’ve known it for a long time, but now as a young adult, it’s clear to me these cattle aren’t just my parents’ passion: they’re mine too. I love learning the history of the breeds, sharing the cows with others, and helping ensure these cattle are around for the next generation.

            I enjoy the challenge of picking bulls for each of my cows. I feel honored to help breeders choose foundation stock. I see the promise of the future in every newborn calf, and the full circle of seeing those calves grow up and have calves of their own is priceless.

            I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I’m here to carry on the legacy from the past and bring it forward into the future. I love seeing the cattle go to work on other farms across the country, and I want to see these low-input grazing genetics continue to thrive.

            I feel so blessed to be breeding cattle, and the best thing is sharing them with others.

            “Don’t ya like cows?”

Martha with her heritage cows on pasture