Published on Monday, July 10, 2017
Growing up, Krista Stauffer didn’t know much about agriculture. In fact, the only farm experience she had was driving past an old dairy farm in her small hometown. Ironically, today she lives on that exact farm with her husband and their growing young family.
Her husband, Brandon, grew up on the opposite side of Washington state, surrounded by dairy farms. His parents milked cows until he was six years old and relatives on both sides of the family had their own farms.
“Everything I thought was cool when I was a kid had something to do with the dairy farm.” Brandon recalls. “Tractors or cows or somebody's barn. It was just like my whole world revolved around dairy farming.”
Naturally, as he got older, Brandon wanted a dairy of his own. But with continued development and new agricultural trends in the region, land prices had increased rapidly in his short lifetime. It simply wasn’t an option to start a farm. “I didn't think I was ever going to be able to do it.” Brandon explains.
After high school, Brandon went to work in concrete construction. Later he spent time working in plumbing and electrical. After three years at an oil refinery, he knew that wasn’t for him either. “I hated it, just hated it.” Brandon says with disgust. “A ten hour day seemed like a life time because it was stuff that I didn't enjoy. Once you've mastered it, it just gets old. It gets boring. And it's monotonous.”
The possibility of dairy farming still filled his mind. “I just decided that it was time to make it happen.” He says. “It’s my passion. It's everything that I like to do. With dairy farming, there's some things that get old, and they are monotonous, but it's always a challenge. It's always got you working towards something. You have a goal and a lifetime to get to.You just have that vision, it's constant.”
So, Brandon packed up and moved 450 miles east to chase his dream. The odds were against him. He was young, didn’t have a bank, and had no connections to the community. People thought he was crazy. Some were taking bets on how long he’d last. But all that just fueled his fire.
It wasn’t easy, but Brandon was committed to his goal. “I ate a big slice of humble pie. I ate the whole damn pie the first couple years I was here because it was really tough.” Brandon laughs looking back. “I started in the worst dairy year on record, which was 2009. And when I would pay bills, two times a month, I would just shake because it was so stressful.”
Just a few months after he’d moved, Krista and Brandon met at the feed store where she worked. She’d heard about this new ‘coasty’ who’d moved in and she didn’t like him. But, after getting to know Brandon, she changed her mind.
Quickly she learned, if they were going to be together, that meant coming to Brandon. “It was hard dating somebody that was basically married to the farm, and not really having any concept of that.” Krista explains. “That was a really big struggle, trying to realize that it wasn't that he didn't care or he didn't want to spend time with me, he just couldn't. He just couldn't get away. That's where I just kind of dug my heels in and was like, 'Okay, we can't go do anything, so I might as well learn all of this and be part of it.'”
Krista jumped in with enthusiasm, connecting with other dairy farmers and combing through research papers. She began sharing her new family’s experience on her own blog, The Farmer’s Wifee. She’s shared the struggles, and victories, of their journey as beginning farmers. Krista enjoys the opportunity blogging has given her to encourage other young women who are dating or married to farmers.
Although they’ve had plenty of challenges, Krista has found her own encouragement in more experienced farmers who’ve taken the couple under their wing. “They're all the older generation and when he started, gave Brandon a chance buying feed and helping him along on a handshake. They saw that he was passionate and that he was driven.” Krista beams.
These mentors sold the Stauffers older equipment to get started with and worked with them on payments. “It's not something that I'll ever forget, or take lightly that they were willing to put their neck out on the line for some guy they just met that moved in here, was 25 years old and was starting up a dairy farm.” Brandon adds.
In January 2017, the Stauffers were able to purchase the farm they’d been renting for nearly 8 years. The couple was excited, and thankful again for another farm family who gave them a chance to keep building their own farming legacy.
“It's just so crazy to have all these people that are in your corner.” Krista says sincerely. “People that you never met before or you're not even related to. But they have your back and they want to see you succeed. I mean, that's why we have our farm. They decided to give us that chance and help us make that dream come true.”
That’s why Brandon and Krista Stauffer farm.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, dairy, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Washington, jerseys, milk, The Farmer's Wife, young farmer