This series will highlight women who are actively owning and 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.
Nestled at the beautiful foothills of Mt. Rainier, about thirty-five miles southeast of Seattle, WA is Leann Krainick’s 3rd generation dairy farm, where she farms over 1,000 acres.
Although, Leann has been around agriculture most of her life, she didn’t find her way into Washington or dairy farming until a little later on.
“I never imagined myself living on a farm.” stated Krainick.
She grew up on a horse farm near Portland, Oregon and always pictured herself being a veterinarian. She decided she enjoyed the business side of agriculture more so after completing her Animal Science degree with a minor in Agricultural Business at Oregon State, Leann packed up and headed north to Seattle.
Leann has had a colorful career path, all thanks to her agricultural roots. She started as a feed formulation coordinator with Land O’ Lakes, a feed company. It wasn’t until Leann met her husband, Mike that made her take a dive into the dairy industry.
It wasn’t long after Leann and Mike got married that Leann’s father-in-law got sick and Leann’s role on the farm changed dramatically. She took on the bookkeeping and managing the farm’s records. Once her father-in-law became well again, Leann had to return to work outside the farm.
Leann thanks her strong agricultural roots for her next job– Anheuser-Busch. You may be thinking how can someone with a degree in agriculture be successful at Anheuser-Busch? “Although it’s a beer company, Anheuser-Busch is one of the biggest agricultural companies in the world. I worked as a Pricing Analyst and gained a lot of public speaking experience,” stated Leann. But, 3 years later Leann’s father-in-law passed away and she returned to work at the farm.
In time, Leann’s role evolved on the dairy. She used her past job experiences to bring inventive ideas to the farm.
One of Leann’s many duties on the dairy includes managing her girls’ waste. By girls I mean cows, and by waste, I mean poo. If you are picturing Leann with overalls, and shoveling the poo into a wheelbarrow, think again.
Say hello to the Daritech BeddingMaster. This machine takes the manure, extracts the water and tiny particles, leaving solid material which goes into an in-vessel composter. For about 3 days, the leftover waste is kept at 150 degrees which allows beneficial bacteria to flourish. All of that means, this machine cranks out a certified organic soil amendment- Scarecrow’s Pride.
“I use it on my dahlias,” she said, “which allowed me to cut my watering down by half by using our compost.” One of her friends, a giant pumpkin grower tried it, too. And, he broke the record for the heaviest pumpkin at the 2011 Washington State Fair. “That year, we realized we had something special and decided to market it to gardeners,” Leann stated.
If you’re into buying local, you don’t have to look too far. There are about half a dozen stores in Puget Sound carrying Scarecrow’s Pride.
All dairy farmers have different ways of managing their girls’ manure, but the Krainicks have found a particularly innovative way to do so.
Aside from her work on the farm, Leann serves as Chairman of the King County Agriculture Commission.
“A very diverse group serves on this commission and I’m glad I’m able to bring a dairy farmer’s perspective,” she said. “A major focus for me has been encouraging government officials to preserve farm land in King County. This opportunity has allowed me to advocate for farming at council meetings, city meetings, colleges, etc.”
Leann is excited to see what the future holds for not only dairy farming, but all of agriculture. “Technology is already changing the way we farm and it’s going to positively change and benefit ag even more. I think technology also excites the next generation,” Leann stated. “More kids are wanting to go back to the farm after college to take it over.”
To say that Leann’s farm is innovative is an understatement. Leann and Mike are implementing changes on their dairy farm which are having an impact on the whole dairy community. In fact, they were recognized as King County’s Small Rural Business of the Year in 2014.
Not only is Leann a trailblazer on her own dairy farm, but also in the whole community.