Growing up on my family’s dairy farm in the Midwest, I knew the pristine pastures and friendly livestock would always be a part of my life. I also realized from an early age that I had all the skills necessary to be a successful dairy farmer. I developed sharp reflexes to stay out of the cows’ way when they grew ornery. By the time I reached my early teens, I had hands like Sonny Liston – although I applied my lightning-quick movements to milking rather than boxing. As the farm grew more profitable, we switched to automatic milking machines.
I was also fascinated by the cheese-making process, which took place in a designated building off to one side of the farm. To this day, I’ve never seen a cleaner workspace than that cheese-making room – a stark contrast from the messy dairy barns. All of the reconditioned dairy equipment – especially the stainless steel cheese vats – was kept spotless. Today, I still live on the same farm and have upgraded most of the equipment, but the memories from those early days never fade.