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Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Michigan Farmer, Barbara Sieman

Published on Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Science tells us all about forces that make our world go round. Gravity and friction are explained in textbooks, but there’s something more powerful that makes Barbara and Darrin Siemen’s farm work – love.

Barbara Siemen didn’t grow up in a farming family. She never imagined she’d live on a farm. It wasn’t until she met her husband, Darrin, at Michigan State that she was introduced to life in agriculture. “Through college, we’d come back home on the weekends here to the farm. I’d go out there and milk in the parlor right next to him, I’d ride on the tractor fender, I’d sit on the uncomfortable armrest of the tractor for hours. That’s really where it started to blossom as I asked him questions. He was my first teacher. He had a way of explaining things to me that I understood.”

After the first date, she knew Darrin was the one. They’ve been in love ever since. Right after college, they got married and moved to the farm. “I couldn’t not be part of this. It felt like coming home to me.”

Now, Barbara and Darrin are raising their three children on the farm. Each day, she helps them care for the calves and chickens. “Teaching the kids responsibility, seeing their love for animals and agriculture grow is really amazing.”

It’s not just the couple’s love for each other or the kids that makes their Michigan farm work. The Siemens love their cows. Recently, the latest milking robots were added to the barns. This technology allows the cows to get milked whenever they want, making sure they’re always comfortable. Darrin carefully monitors the data output to make any adjustments. The free stall area even has roller brushes where the cows line up to get back scratches. Another robot, affectionately named Rosie, pushes feed back into neat rows. Rosie automatically keeps the barn aisles tidy and a buffet of nutritious feed in front of the herd at all times.

The family eagerly shares their love for the farm with others. School groups enjoy seeing the calves and learning what they eat. Barbara also speaks and writes, sharing stories from her family’s centennial farm.

“Really what brought me here was love. A love for the man, a love for the industry, for the community, it’s really all about love. This is not the life I had imagined for myself, but once I fell in love with those things, I couldn’t live without any of them.”

That’s why Barbara Siemen farms.


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Natalina Sents

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