Farm gal of the month: Marie Ditzenberger

June is Dairy Month, so we are thrilled to introduce Marie Ditzenberger as our Farm Gal for the month! She comes from Monticello, WI from Mar-Reyz Ditzy Dairy. It is a 220 acre farm with about 170 acres of tillable acreage that is used to primarily grow corn, alfalfa and grass hay.  You may recognize the name as we have used her photos before on our Facebook page. We are big fans of Marie and everything she does for the dairy industry in Wisconsin. And so, for the month of June, we want to share her amazing story.

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She started the farm with her first husband and her parents in 1996. After her first husband passed in 2000, she ran the farm pretty much on her own, which is very impressive. Since her dad had taken on an over-the-road trucking job and her mom was working in town, she bravely handled the farm solo. Her parents bought machinery from a guy named Jeff Ditzenberger, who stopped out one day and helped fix a few things in 2001…and he kind of stuck around. Long story short, Marie bought out her parents in the beginning of 2002 and married Jeff that August.

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In April of 2002, they had sold half of the Holstein herd, and in March of 2003 traded the rest of our heifers. They bought a herd of Jersey cows, which brought them to about 50 total. Now they have 200 head of primarily Jersey, Holstein/Jersey crosses and Normande dairy cattle.  They typically sell all of their bull calves and raise all of their own replacement heifers.

This family is more than just the farm. When Marie and Jeff got married, she always said "I came with the cattle, he came with the kids…I have two step children, daughter Harleigh, 17 and son Parker, 16." Harleigh works off the farm and Parker is very interested in the crop production and machinery. And while he doesn't really like milking, Parker is very good with the cattle.

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Sharing the farm with her family was common sense. Marie says, "I grew up on a farm, loved the animals and being outside. I was also very involved with FFA in school and would rather be with my cattle as opposed to people.  I worked in town for extra money and to get a taste of the world outside the farm, but I was always most happy on the farm.  I guess you could say it was in my 'jeans'."

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Marie is on the farm all of the time. Her day starts at 5 am and often times doesn't end until 8 pm or later. She works 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Milking and feeding cows, feeding babies, cleaning up, mixing feed, feeding young stock. And repeat. "That's my day job." Marie has a lot to like on the farm, "seeing the sunrises and sunsets, being with all the baby animals and watching them grow. Spending time with the cows and milking, witnessing the crops growing and knowing I am doing a small part to help feed the world population. I love spending time in my garden and playing with our dogs, and Jeff and I both get a lot of enjoyment out of watching the chickens chase bugs and scratch at the dirt…..(except when that dirt is my garden or numerous flower beds).  I also get to vary most of my day however I see fit as long as the cows get milked on the proper schedule.  Everyday has its different challenges and even though not everything goes smoothly every day, I am always satisfied with a job well done.  There are countless miracles out here and I cherish that." Those are words to live by. Being a farmer is not easy, but the rewards are great.

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For Marie, being a woman in ag is a challenge, but one that has its perks. "It's been proven that women have a tendency to be better milkers and are usually more patient with the animals. I think the natural nurturing attitude helps with the raising of young stock. And balance…..it's an interesting line between taking care of everything outside and still taking care of house and home life. It's crazy sometimes, but in the end, well worth it." It takes skills to keep a farm and a family going, but we can tell Marie has it down to a science.

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On finding a woman's place on the farm, Marie said we have some ways to go on acceptance. "I think times are changing and while women are being accepted into agriculture now in a more positive light, it's not without its challenges, especially in "non-traditional" roles. There are still numerous sales people that show up at the farm that don't take me seriously and still ask for dad, my husband, or the boss man.  That attitude has to go away.  However, I think also that women in production agriculture have to assert themselves in a positive manner and be positive role models for our youth.  I believe going into the future, women are ready to take on the challenges facing them in agriculture and will do a great job at it." We applaud Marie (and Jeff) on everything they do every day to make the ag industry a success and especially Marie for giving women dairy farmers a good name.

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Comments

Pat Landorf - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 8:35:19 PM
Congratulations on Farm Gal of the month you certainly deserve it. I am very impressed with your operation. Everything looks Great
Billie - Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 5:25:36 PM
You make women proud!!! You are truly dedicated to your girls and job and they couldn't have chosen a better Farm Gal of the month than you, Marie! Congrats! :)
Jane Christen - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 4:21:12 PM
Great article!!!
We sure are proud of you!!!

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