Sarah Mumm grew up on a farm where her dad worked as a herdsman until he quit his job when she was in 8th grade. In the years that followed, Sarah missed farming, so as soon as she got her drivers license, she got a job milking cows at a 200 cow jersey farm where she worked through college. From there she went on to take short course and the Pasture-Based Dairy and Livestock seminar, because, in her words, “I knew that ‘when I grew up’ I wanted to farm in some way, some shape, somehow.”
After finishing short course, she did an internship through WSBDF with a 600 cow dairy in Elkhorn, WI, and after that she landed a job as an assistant herdsperson at a 1000 cow dairy in Lancaster, WI. “The internship and all of the knowledge and responsibility that I gained from that experience worked hand in hand getting that job. It really helped me go forward,” Sarah said.
As much as she liked the job on the large dairy, Sarah still had a strong urge to run her own farm and be her own boss, so after a year, she decided to jump into farming on her own. Describing the experience, she says, “I found an opening at a 60-cow barn in Platteville. The rent was right, the time was right; so that’s when I went to the FSA office and talked to them about getting a loan to start farming… I had to go into a lot of debt and purchase a lot of animals which is always a huge risk, but that’s where I started.”
In the year that followed, she became engaged to Joe Mumm, a man she met at the dairy that she worked at in Lancaster. Together, they decided to move to the family farm where Joe grew up. Joe stayed employed at the larger dairy, and they got their own farm up and running. This was in 2006, and they are still there today, with two additions to the family, Mitchell and Vincent, pictured below. They milk 50 cows and sell to Rolling Hills Milk Cooperative.
Sarah’s story is a testament to the fact that young people can and do make it in farming. “My advice to the students of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers is to be a sponge and absorb as much as you can before you start because there are so many ways to farm. I don’t think any way is impossible as long as you want to give it a lot of effort and try.”