Family in every corner

Melissa Hart

What can I say about a two week jaunt from Michigan to Georgia to Wisconsin to Montana and then back home again? 

I can say this, I think I’m about one of the luckiest people alive to have a job that allows me to see so much of the U.S., meet the hidden gems in fly over country and have a job that necessitates both.

One thing I noticed about the folks in the south is that once they meet you, you’re family.  We covered the DairyLand classic in the beautiful antebellum town of Madison, Georgia. Last year was the first year for this show and we were looking forward to heading back down to my husband’s homeland once again. The people were happy to see us, they made sure we felt appreciated and when we left, they were trying to load us up with food and recommended a route from Georgia to Wisconsin. If I heard it once, I heard it 10 times, “You be careful on the road, I mean it… be careful driving!” It was like saying goodbye to family and it felt good. 

We left at 4 p.m. and drove all night to get to Madison, Wisconsin by morning. We crawled into bed at 5 a.m. and slept until 10 a.m. When our feet hit the floor, we were hustling every day to cover world dairy expo.  Up at 4 a.m., ringside by 6 a.m. and most nights we didn’t leave the ring until 10 p.m. Toward the end of the Brown Swiss heifer show, I snuck out and walked around the barns for a few minutes.  It was there that I saw show strings, done with chores, gathered around someone’s television watching the show on ExpoTV.  It was much like late afternoon on Thanksgiving where everyone is full, relaxed and watching the football game. I bounced from group to group, enjoying the fellowship of those who will go head-to-head in the show ring, but will support each other through thick and thin. It felt like family.

Leaving the expo the day before it ended was odd, but watching my nephew get married against the backdrop of a big Montana sky was reason enough for another 14 hour drive west. I was privileged to witness four of my nephews standing in a line to support their baby brother as he said, “I do” to his beautiful bride. The dance floor was full all night long as my great nieces and nephews danced the night away while my sister and I enjoyed the energy of the next generation bouncing to the beat. We were tired and sweaty, but it was worth every sore muscle the next morning.

The next day we got in the car and headed east for 21 hours of driving. I have no idea how many miles we drove, but every one of them were worth the enjoyment of “family” from the southeast to the northwest and every where in between the land of the free and home of the brave. 

Melissa is a farmwife, mom and freelance writer residing on a dairy farm in southern Michigan. She is available for speaking engagements by contacting her at Visit her weblog at