Home for the holidays

Melissa Hart

The dust has settled from a wild fall of covering shows from Madison, Georgia to Madison, Wisconsin to Louisville, Kentucky aa. And one thing keeps coming to mind, home for the holidays.

We had just finished covering the World Ayrshire Event Sale at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, and even though the Brown Swiss heifer show was still going, our capable crew was handling show ring duties so my husband and I decided to roam the barns for a bit.

Any other year, my barn visits happen pre-expo and once the shows start, I never leave the colored shavings. But this year I was able to steal a few minutes away to feel the energy and joviality of cattle exhibitors at this iconic event.

As we walked the aisles we found some show strings quiet for the night with just the nightman keeping watch over the cattle. Another row was filled with people and feed carts filled with drinks and tables stacked high with pizza boxes as they celebrated a win from the show that day. And in other aisles there were families gathered around eating dinner cooked in their crockpot, in their temporary living quarters watching the Brown Swiss show on their big screen TV. There were groups of people catching up on the day, making cattle deals or working on bagging schedules. When I glanced outside, I could see people slowly exercising cattle in the evening light as they walked in circles around the barn, chatting with friends or taking a quiet moment to themselves.

Just before we were about to head back to the ring, I approached a group of folks from Ohio as they were lined up in chairs in the center aisle, watching the show on the Milksource Genetics TV’s, cheering on their Buckeye comrades in the Swiss show. We talked about the day’s events as they invited us to join them for a drink.

When we walked out of the barn I realized all the people I meet at shows from January to November were gathered in one place, for one show. And just like when family gathers at Christmas, it gave me the same warm fuzzy feeling to see my dairy family come ‘home for the holidays’ at World Dairy Expo.

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