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Why blend in when you're born to stand out?

I am an outsider. Well, I have felt like one for most of my life. I was short, had braces, and had a passion for cattle, especially my dairy beef steers. 

Those three qualities might not seem like obstacles, but they were in my growing suburban high school. 

I was looking for ways to be invisible or try to fit in. I found some solace with my county’s dairy beef 4-H program except, unbeknownst to me, dairy beef steers receive criticism, too. Instead of teenage boys dishing out the insults, beef farmers found fault with raising a dairy steer and marketing them like a purebred beef steer. 

Like me, my Holstein steers and 4-H club were unpopular until those in farming began feeling the pinch of the recession. After that, everyone was itching to cash in on the opportunity to cheaply feed a Holstein or Brown Swiss steer, hoping it would make more than the monthly milk premiums and price per pound at auction. As a result, my club’s membership grew from 20 to over 45 members. 

A trait fostered by raising dairy beef steers was my resilience. Each year, I was determined to achieve my goal: to grow a well-trained, healthy Holstein steer that would stand out on tanbark to the judge. 

Some years, I was successful in being crowned overall dairy beef champion at my local fairs. Then there were years my steers and I weren’t the reigning winners of our weight, fitting, and showmanship classes. 

When I would fall short, it would be a disappointment. All my hard work would feel like a waste. 

Courtney Love 4-H
Photo by Courtney Love

I sought comfort from my steers, which I snuggled after an exhausting show day. When I laid with my back against them, the vibration of their heartbeats and scratching their necks would soothe me. It was in those moments that I felt like I was my most authentic self.

While being with cows is where I am genuinely happy, I am also excited to find and write stories about farmers and agriculture. I began my editorial career with Lancaster Farming, a small regional farming newspaper in Pennsylvania. Three and half years later, I found myself driving west of the Appalachian mountains on highway I-74 in my Volkswagen Jetta with my Irish Setter, Cinnamon, to become the digital content editor at Successful Farming magazine in Des Moines.

It's been a learning curve moving from a fast-paced, densely populated and high-traffic area to a slow, low-density, yet busy city. I had moments like weaving my Jetta through city intersections where I felt estranged from the traffic. The staff and leadership at Successful Farming have been welcoming to me during this transition. It's helped me settle into the pace of the city.  

So, here's to conquering the city of Des Moines, building my resilience, and discovering a little bit more about myself.  

Do you have tips on relocating for work or a list of must-see things in Iowa? Just want to chat about livestock? I'd love to hear from you! Connect with me through email at

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