Lifestyle Livestock

My farm childhood helped shape my identity today


Growing up on a farm is a unique experience, to say the least. I “learned” how to fix a fence before I could even write my name! Many of my childhood memories took place in the wheelbarrow or skid steer. My mom couldn’t leave her kids in the house while she worked, so she towed us along wherever she went. When we weren’t being wheeled around the farm, my brother and I would run amuck collecting frogs or playing in the sandbox.

Growing up on a farm teaches you a lot of life skills at a young age. You learn how to treat animals and the land with respect, develop a strong work ethic, and learn how to be responsible.

Related: A farm childhood is unlike any other — and that’s a good thing

My family raises many 4-H animals at home that my siblings and I have shown at the county fair. When I was 9 years old, my parents bought me a jersey calf to raise. When I was 12, I bought one with my own money, and now I have a small herd of cows to call my own.

I have spent my whole life trying to meet more farmers and learn from them. During my summers off, I found myself doing an array of jobs. Some of my favorite summer jobs were working on an organic produce farm, learning how to process meat birds, working with the veterinarian, learning how to show beef cattle, and working closer with my family.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Maslyn

The American Dairy Association North East (ADANE) has set out to show people other aspects of farmers’ lives. ADANE has visited 12 farms in the northeast region of the U.S. to produce a series of documentary shorts called This American Dairy Farmer.

This American Dairy Farmer highlights many farms, farm families, and individuals who are farmers, but are “regular people” too. ADANE interviewed me at Hemdale Farms in Seneca Castle, New York, where my dad is the dairy herd manager.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Maslyn

I have spent many years at Hemdale as a part-time employee, and it is where my herd of jersey cows are residents. It is where I learned everything I know about dairy farming from my dad. The owners of the farm, the Hemminger family, have helped me grow tremendously in the dairy industry.

Although agriculture makes up a huge part of my identity, I like to get off the farm sometimes too! ADANE wants consumers to know that farmers wear a lot of hats — that they do more than drive tractors and milk cows. Farmers are educated people who work hard to keep their communities beautiful and clean. Farming is much more than a job, it really is a lifestyle.

See my story below, and view many others by following ADANE on Facebook.


Elizabeth Maslyn is a Cornell University student pursuing a career in the dairy industry. Her passion for agriculture has driven her desire to learn more, and let the voices of our farmers be heard.

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