Cow and Quality Assurance Caretaker Melissa Hildebrand Reed
As a child, Melissa Hildebrand Reed spent each weekend on her dad’s farm. Little did she know she’d be spending all her days running it with him.
I love my job for two reasons: Every day is different, and I get to work with cows. All of this is possible because I grew up spending so much time learning about how to be a dairy farmer from my dad. Back in those childhood days, I dreaded Sunday afternoons. I spent each holiday and weekend with my dad at the farm playing with my cousins and my grandma. My dad would take me everywhere with him. I still remember waiting for him to finish hours-long meetings with his crop consultants or tending to the cows. I loved the time I spent there. I would bawl on Sundays when I had to go back to Topeka. So it’s no surprise to see where I’ve landed.
After graduating from college at Kansas State University, I worked in marketing at a Texas newspaper. Once I married my husband, we landed back in Kansas raising our three kids. My husband is a “farm husband” (you might not hear that often, right?) and owns two appliance stores. I joined my dad back at the dairy farm.
Our dairy operation includes the farm, where we raise 120 cows and the crops to feed them, a processing plant and our farm store where we sell milk, butter, cream, soft-serve ice cream and beef. My responsibilities include day-to-day operations for the plant and dairy. This entails quality assurance and customer service for our partnered retailers, distribution and product marketing.
Out of all the things I get to do at work, spending time with the cows is the most fulfilling. Caring for them makes me feel successful in a way that I can’t get from an award. I can provide healing that gives me strength and resolve for each next challenge. Caring for our cows is both the foundation to our success and therapeutic for me.
I always remember that this fulfilling work started for me as a little girl who loved playing and learning at the farm. It’s why I open up our farm to other families in the area. On the second Saturday of fall we host an event that includes free tours, milking demonstrations, a concert, kids’ activities and a vendor fair. This way children get to experience the beauty of life on a farm. As a bonus, we all get to have a lot of fun.