Monday, June 25, 2012

Kris and Carla Wardin

Meet Kris and Carla Wardin. They were just a couple of farm kids working in the corporate world who found their way back to the farm. They now own and operate a dairy farm in Michigan Here is their story...

After college, my husband Kris and I were happily working for successful corporations and moving around the country, but we knew someday we wanted to own our own business. My dad was getting ready to sell his cattle and retire. Kris suggested we buy my parents’ dairy farm. 

It had never occurred to me that he – although he was also from a farm – might want to someday be a farmer. I was all for it! Newly pregnant with twins, we moved from Connecticut to the 130-year-old homestead in Michigan.

We've now been farming for five years. We milk 300 cows on a pasture-based dairy farm. We rotationally graze them on irrigated pastures, and we seasonally calve. That means that all the cows have their calves in the spring and summer. We grow our own corn and alfalfa to feed to the cattle.

Since we've moved here, we've built a barn, added onto the silage pad, modified barns, knocked down silos, and made a lot of changes. We've also added a third son.

Kris and I are very involved in promoting and supporting agriculture. He’s a member of our county Farm Bureau board and the secretary/treasurer for our local MMPA branch (our milk co-op.) I’m a dairy communicator for MMPA and write a blog – I also guest write for the Farm Bureau and Farm Fresh Food blogs.

We live in a big dairy area, so when I was growing up I didn't think much about living on a farm. After I moved away – and when I moved back – I realized how few people have a connection to farming. As a result, I love teaching people about dairy farms … and showing it off! It’s so fun to take people through our milk parlor and meet our cows up close. Plus, seeing a newborn calf never gets old. 

Now that the nation’s attention has turned more toward finding out about how your food is grown, promoting dairy farming has become an even bigger passion of mine. When I was giving a friend a tour, she said, “I have never, not even once, thought about how milk gets to the store.” I like being able to answer people’s questions, demonstrate our practices, and show them how dairy products go from here to there. Not only is it interesting, but it’s totally new information to many people! 

My favorite part about having a farm is the lifestyle. Not only is this our business, but it’s a way of life. Since there’s no real separation between work and home, the five of us are often together. Of course, it’s hard work, there’s not a lot of time off, and it’s stressful. But so is owning any business. At least with this one, we’re producing something we’re proud of, and we have a great view while we’re at it.

Thanks Kris and Carla for the great feature! You can learn more about the dairy biz on their blog Truth or Dairy. Carla also has written a book: Every Other Twin Book is Wrong: 15 Tips on Twin Pregnancy, Infancy and Toddler Time

 If you would like to be a featured farmer or know someone who should be, leave a comment below - or check out our contact page. To learn more about the Faces of Agriculture Project click here.