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Facebook Leads to Friendship, Business Venture

Facebook groups and other online forums are great places to meet like-minded people and to discuss common issues, but those relationships rarely evolve beyond the screen. For two members of the Successful Farming  Women in Agriculture Facebook group, however, an online acquaintanceship has developed into a real-life friendship and joint business venture.

Juliette Albrecht and her husband are dairy farmers near St. Cloud, Minnesota. Showing dairy cattle is her passion, but she also does fieldwork, milks, and manages the herd.

Marisa Hawley of Edgerton, Wisconsin, is the herdsman for 7 Oaks Hazeltine Dairy, where she has worked since she was a junior in high school, doing everything from milking, to feeding, to herd health checks, to keeping records. She grew up in a farm family and got her start early. “I started showing cows when I was young, and I’ve been hooked since day one,” she says.

The two became acquainted in Women in Ag when it was apparent that they both had a passion for Brown Swiss cattle. They messaged each other and discovered they had more in common than just a love of livestock. “We talked a lot and developed a great friendship,” Albrecht says, “and, as they say, the rest is history!” They talk via text, phone calls, and Facebook message, and meet in person whenever they can.

Hawley had plans to buy one of Albrecht’s heifers until a broken foot put her on the bench temporarily. Then, in June, the friends saw a beautiful red Holstein heifer, FirstGlance Ducati Dora-Red, listed on a Facebook registered dairy cattle classifieds page. “We knew we had to have her,” Hawley says. “It was an easy decision to buy animals together.”

It’s a seven-hour drive between their homes, and the two struck an agreement that Dora will live with Albrecht in Minnesota. “It really doesn’t matter where she stays,” Albrecht says. “It just currently works out for her to stay with me.”

“Dora can come down and stay with me for shows and such if I want,” Hawley says. “We just go with the flow.”

Next, the two friends plan on buying a Swiss or an Ayrshire. “Or all of the above,” Hawley says. Eventually, they would like to sell calves and embryos together under the name Jul-Mar Genetics.

“I’ve been a herdsman for nearly five years and have owned my own animals, too, but it’s hard to find friends who have the same things in common, and even if you do find those, you don’t always click,” Hawley says. “I’m very thankful for the Women in Agriculture page for bringing us together.”

“Marisa has turned into so much more than a cattle friend,” Albrecht says. “She’s my shoulder to cry on and gives me sound life advice.”

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