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Meet the Farmer: Katie Ryks

Everyone, meet Katie! Katie is one of those highly trained people our farm has been privileged to team up with over the last few years. Her family farm is right next door, or across the field, and I spent many a summer evening having dinner and hanging out with her family growing up! Just reading through Katie’s answers  you can tell how much she loves the cows and how much her life revolves around giving them the best care she can!

Katie Ryks

  1. What is your role here at Appel Farms and how did you come to be here?

My role here on the farm consists of taking care of the health and records of the herd. I do all the artificial insemination, treatment of sick cows, assist with calvings, vaccinations, and keep track of all the records.  Almost exactly 4 years ago (end of July) I got a call from Rich asking if I would come help at the farm for the next several weeks. Him and your mom were planning on their big road trip and your dad asked if I could just help out. It was never supposed to be something permanent but it ended up being a really good fit for both of us.

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This is Case, Katie and Brady’s son. Pretty much the cutest mini human around, though his little brother is giving him some competition!

  1. What is your favorite part about being a farmer?

I really enjoy working outside and being with the cows. My favorite thing is walking through the barn and seeing what happy, healthy, and content cows we have at the farm.  It is really rewarding to see cows that I have taken care of for whatever reason; a hard calving, a milk fever, or a digestive upset out in the freestalls doing really well. I enjoy tracking our benchmarks and goals for the herd as far as reproduction, health, and production.

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  1. Does your family have any history with farming or Appel Farms?

I come from a very long line of farmers.  Both sides of my family have been farmers for many generations. My grandpa Smit (aka Papa) bought the farm adjacent to Appel Farms just one year after Jack Appel did in 1967. My mom grew up next door and was great friends with Elaine and Rena. As a kid I spent countless hours on my grand parents farm and sometimes would travel down the gravel driveway that led to the appel farms. I love that our grandparents put in those driveways because they set an example for the next generations to have good relationships and be good neighbors. My dad also was raised on a dairy and his family moved to Whatcom county in 1971 and bought a dairy in Lynden.

Something a little off subject of the history of farming is this, I really feel like we have to be so grateful to have had such amazing patriarchs in our families. Jack and my grandpa were such faithful, God-loving men. I have heard many times about how your grandpa told the breeder not to come and breed on Sundays because it was the Lords Day. And that breeder to this day (he’s now retired) always says he respected that so much and that no one could tell from his records that he wasn’t getting cows bred. My grandpa was always like that with Sunday too, he would always go and shut off his irrigation on Saturday night and would say God would provide.  He also would always go and feed the cows before he ever ate. He said that God entrusted him with these animals and they cant feed themselves so he would feed them first.

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This is Katie’s uncle Paul, and the kid sitting next to him is my dad Rich!

  1. Tell us about your family and your life outside of farming. What makes you tick?

I have two little boys, Case (3) and Jack (1) who keep me and my husband Brady very busy. We spend a lot of time outside and most nights end with a bath because of the mud, dirt, and who knows what else they have managed to collect throughout the day. I also help coach the wa state 4-H dairy judging team, before I had kids I would travel with the team to World Dairy Expo. Now I help set up practices and work with them on giving oral reasons. I really enjoy looking at good cattle, and I feel like the years of judging cows has come in handy now as we buy cattle as well as when I put together groups of cattle to sell for the farm. I don’t know if I can say I know what makes me tick but I do know that being around dairy cattle has always been a pretty big part of my life. I showed cattle in 4-H for many years, got a degree in dairy science, and then ended up here on the farm. Annnnddd I just read the question  over and the part about life outside of farming didn’t register very well 😉

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  1. If you could tell the world one thing about farming, what would it be?

The one thing I wish I could tell more people about is to go straight to the source when you have questions about where your food comes from, or how it was raised. Ask farmers! Go and visit a farm! So many times I think people read an article or blog with so many untruths and they believe what they read. If people would just take the time and see with their own eyes how well cared for our animals are they would realize that farmers love their cows and go to great lengths to do a great job. I could go on and on and on about so many other things I wish I could tell people about farming, but I will stop here 😉

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