More than a Mom

Written by Peyson Shields

With the dairy becoming a more prominent responsibility, plus raising four kids, daughters Blair, 13, Mylie, 11 and Aleah, 9 and son Case, 2, Ranell made the choice to step away from teaching.

“I wanted to (teach), but I compromised to be able to be part of the dairy and still do what I love,” she says. “When you’re a mom, you have to make tough decisions.”

Ranell spends two days a week at the dairy as the office manager, and gives tours in the fall and spring. 

The two-hour tour at New Generation Dairy focuses on animal care, nutrition and how milk gets from the farm to consumers’ refrigerators. With more than two-thirds of the 2,000 visitors the dairy hosts year being school-aged children, a hands-on approach is key. The interactive tour includes milking a fake cow, petting a calf and getting weighed on the scale. It even wraps up by giving kids a bottle of milk to take home.

Even though the farm sees its fair share of legislators, college students, senior groups and those in the agriculture industry, Ranell’s heart lies with the younger generation.

“I like to talk to adults about it, but I love teaching kids about how hard farmers work and getting kids to appreciate and respect agriculture,” she says.

Breaking the Status Quo

As the heads of their operations, Beth Wells-Leis of Wells-Holm Holsteins and Shelly Dickinson of Mountain View Farm, are full-time mothers — and farmers.

Growing Up Dairy

A mother to four kids and 45 cows, Beth handles all of the day-to-day tasks on her farm in Sparta, Wis. From the breeding to the feeding, she does it all with the help of her daughters Madaline, 16, Addison, 9 and Haydyn, 7, and son Gage, 5 — often times, while her husband is away on business.

“It’s not perfect, but parenting isn’t perfect,” she says. “Being on the farm, there are days where it’s not perfect either. It’s not a perfect world, but it’s our world and we make it work.”

Growing up on a farm, Beth says that at the time, the responsibilities seemed tedious, but they’re what made her who she is today. Those same responsibilities are now helping to shape the future for her children, who have grown up on the dairy and are all actively involved while they also take on ag-focused activities such as showing animals, like sheep, in 4-H.

“When they’re in the show ring and I see them beam because they’re so proud of their hard work, that’s what makes it all worth it,” she says. “I couldn’t ask for a better lifestyle.”

Setting the Example

Running a 3,600-cow dairy and juggling extracurricular activities isn’t easy — but Shelly makes it happen. The fourth-generation dairy farmer operates at different two locations in Loveland, Colo., with her husband, Martin Ontiveros, the dairy’s herdsman. Inheriting the dairy from her father, Michael, Shelly says the operation couldn’t be where it is today without the group of people that put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Shelly pushes herself hard to be the best farmer and mother she can be to her three children: Tyler, 21, Stella, 13 and Jolie, 10.

“I make a point to leave the dairy when they’re out of school,” she says. “I don’t want them to think they’re not important.” From soccer to basketball to 4-H, she keeps the family and dairy running smoothly.

In addition to her kids’ busy schedules, Shelly sits on DFA’s Mountain Area Council and the board of directors for both Western Dairy Association and Colorado Livestock Care Coalition.