Published on Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Sometimes it takes moving away to realize that home is where your heart is.
Growing up in southern Wisconsin, Shellie Zweifel was in 4-H and FFA. After high school, she packed up for Iowa State University to study agriculture. “The big dream job was to work somewhere like USDA.” Shellie remembers.
However, accounting and economics weren’t the only things she learned at Iowa State. Being away from the farm taught Shellie a lot about herself.
“I got homesick a lot.” she reflects. “My mom and dad, they were the only ones. My brother had a job off the farm at the time. They went through help quite a bit. When I came home in 2013, we had a huge feedlot order. Mom helped with processing and stuff, but Dad and I alone were buying them and taking them to Iowa. From where we were living, it was three hours there and three hours back. Together we moved 3,000 head in four months. That’s a lot between the two of us. That was really huge. It got my interest going in the feedlot end of it all and in July of that year, I decided, I’m not going back to Iowa State. I’m coming back home to farm.”
“We have a dairy farm and also a cattle business, so we’re a big team around here.” she explains. While Shellie is running the truck and trailer, going to sales, or doing all the outside chores, her boyfriend, Larry, and mom, Amy, do the milking twice a day.
Driving through the night and feeding cattle in the Wisconsin winters can be tough. “Working with calves is hard. You’ve really got to stay consistent with it. They’re the easiest thing on the farm to lose, but probably one of the most expensive investments to get started out. I like seeing them grow.”
The long hours and hard work doesn’t stop Shellie. “The cattle get me out of bed in the morning. The cattle and knowing we’re feeding the world. Yeah, there are bad days where you just want to curl up in bed. These days, with the markets, there are a lot of unhappy farmers, but you’ve got to have passion for it, or it’s not worth waking up.”
Shellie’s passion and aptitude has earned her the respect of others in the community, but that didn’t happen overnight. Coming back to the farm and working in a male dominated profession hasn’t always been easy. With a strong work ethic and determination, Shellie has found her niche.
"My parents have always farmed. I’ve always farmed. Why do I farm? My passion is here, my heart is here. I went to college, I’ve tried to experience something different. I fed calves for a guy, working for somebody else just for something different. That’s just not for me. Working other places, you’re basically clocking in and clocking out. Yeah, you’ve got to have your heart for that to be a good employee, but at the same time, it's not yours. I’d rather have my own stuff. I can do whatever I want. And the biggest thing is, there’s a lot of guys out there that said I should go into public relations. Why go into buying cattle? Or farming in general? Well, I’m going to prove them wrong."
That’s why Shellie Zweifel farms.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, dairy, Natalina Sents, Wisconsin, Why I Farm Roadtrip