This series will highlight women who are actively owning or operating dairy farms around our great state of Washington. These women play pivitol roles in day to day farming operations; shattering the old stigma of dairy farming.
To say Lana Smaciarz is familiar with dairy farming would be an understatement. Lana is the 4th generation of her family to be carry on the family legacy, the dairy.
It all started during The Great Depression in the 1920’s. While some may think that would not be an ideal time to invest in a farm, Lana’s great-grandfather thought otherwise. He came over from Switzerland and bought their family’s dairy on the steps of the county courthouse.
Like most dairy farms, Smaciarz’s dairy has been passed down in the family from generation to generation. Now, Lana and her husband, Terry run their Southwest Washington farm, Oxbow Dairy with their four children Andrea, Abby, Alicia, and Adam. The family milks about 250 cows.
Raising and milking cows has been a normal part of Lana’s every day routine for as long as she can remember. As a kid she developed her love for the farm life through doing chores day-to-day and showing at fairs.
Not much has gotten in between Lana and her milking routine, not even being 9 months pregnant.
“I milked cows the day I went into labor with all four of my kids,” Lana said with a laugh. “The doctors always say if you keep busy and do your normal every day activities, you’ll have an easier labor, so I didn’t want to change up my routine.”
Lana’s daily activities range on the farm, but her main responsibilities are raising the calves, and managing the records and finances.
Lana’s expertise doesn’t stop with the cows, she is also a Registered Dietitian. She has worked in hospitals, nursing homes, and as a consultant. Being a dietitian and a farmer that produces a product she is passionate about gives her a unique perspective.
“I see the whole cycle from the farm to table,” she explained. “I understand the logistics of the processing side and use my knowledge to not only educate people on the nutritional benefits of dairy, but the whole story that goes with it.”
To Lana, being a mother and a farmer go hand-in-hand. She says being able to raise her kids on the dairy has been a blessing.
“All of my kids have an excellent work ethic thanks to the farm. They understand that sometimes it’s work before play.” Lana continued, “Four o’clock, no matter what day it is, is chore time, unless one of the kids had something really, really important happening, they were expected to be in the barn at four doing chores.”
Alicia, one of Lana’s daughters, attests to this claim.
“Even if we had to run into town to go to the store, my mom would have a very specific list so we could get what we needed quick and be home by four.”
Alicia is currently the Washington State Dairy Ambassador. As the State Ambassador, Alicia has the opportunity to travel around the state to schools, events, and even the State Capitol to talk with the community about the importance of dairy on an economical and nutritional level.
Lana with her expertise in nutrition has played a big role in helping Alicia throughout the year. “It’s especially fun to work with the kids in schools,” explained Lana. “I’m glad that we are able to teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle from a young age.”
Lana’s community service doesn’t stop with the Ambassador program. She is Secretary for the local FFA Alumni chapter, President of the Vocational Education Board, and an active member of her church and the Washington State Dairy Women organization.
Farmers of all walks of life are faced with challenges, especially dairy farmers.
“Milk prices have always been a challenge. They fluctuate and our budget has to reflect that,” stated Lana.
Meeting consumer demand is a common struggle between commodities, too.
“Consumers are always changing preferences and we try to accommodate them with the products they want,” Lana acknowledged. “I think it’s great that consumers are becoming more interested in where their food is coming from.”
Despite the challenges, Lana wouldn’t trade the dairy life for anything else.
“A lot has changed in dairy farming in the last 40 years. But through all the ups and downs a few things have stayed the same, we’re still working hard to raise these cows and running the dairy as a family,” concluded Lana.