Guest blogger Paige Peiffer is the 2019-2020 Pennsylvania State Dairy Princess
The holidays are my favorite times of year. Whether it’s watching endless Hallmark movies with my family, searching the Christmas tree lot far and wide for the perfect tree, or having the perfect excuse to eat tons of my favorite foods, the holiday season highlights the need of food, love, family and faith.
Family and faith are two of the most important things to me, not just because we are dairy farmers, but because those are the things that I can truly rely on. My family’s faith was put to the test last year because of the declining milk prices and because our milk processor could no longer afford to accept the milk from my family and many others in our area. Receiving the letter that informed us that we would have to find a new place to sell our milk was one of the hardest things that we have ever gone through. It was followed by many tears, frustrations and prayers.
As a 16-year-old girl who grew up a farmer’s daughter, the idea of losing our farm was unthinkable. Eventually, reality set in and I had no other option but to think about my family’s inevitable fate, a fate that made me scream, “Why us?”. What did we do to deserve this? Those doubts and questions consumed my thoughts for months which made me lose faith in a lot of things. I lost faith in myself, I lost faith in the dairy industry, and most importantly I lost faith in God. But even though I may have turned my back on Him for a period of time, He never turned His back on my family. In March 2018 we found a new buyer of our milk, Harrisburg Dairies.
In that moment I found a new gratefulness and thankfulness in my heart and it led me to where I am now, proudly wearing my sash and crown as the PA State Dairy Princess.
Even with all of that renewed hope, it’s still easy to fall back into doubt, especially around this time of year. This season is a time for reflection and for some dairy farmers, reflection is followed with frustrations and stress. Everyone feels under-appreciated at times and combined with low prices for the milk we produce and the weather this past year, my family has an increased amount of stress. Last year around this time, my family and I were given a moment of joy and the best Christmas gift. A gift that now serves as a reminder of gratitude and is proudly displayed in our kitchen.
One December day last year, my dad pulled into our driveway and noticed a package leaning against our mailbox. That package contained a framed picture and little card. The picture was of our farm, with a cloud and a perfect rainbow just above it.
The card read, “Hello, I know this is a little random but I was driving by over the summer and I saw this amazing scene, so I had to take a picture. I’ve been meaning to drop it off all summer but felt weird driving up to a mailbox and dropping something off. I figured it wouldn’t look so crazy now given the season. I know dairy farmers are having a hard time. I am the granddaughter of a dairy farmer myself and it was already a struggle years ago; I cannot imagine how much this has increased over the years. Hoping that this provides hope or just a smile for you and your family. The best to you and yours. Merry Christmas!”
And that is exactly what that photo gave us, hope and joy. In sharing this story and our struggles, I hope to give you a small piece of joy this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family! May this season and the new year be encompassed by the best aspects of the dairy industry: family, faith and fellowship.