Hello there! My name is Caylie Axtell from Deposit, New York, and I am the current New York State Guernsey Princess. I am a 5th generation Guernsey enthusiast, a 2nd generation Guernsey Princess, and I have big plans for my future within the Guernsey breed. My experience with Guernseys is something that I hope to continue to enjoy and pass down to my children.
From the time I was born, my parents and grandparents were planning out my showing career. At only 35 days old, I attended my first Guernsey show at the New York State Fair and watched my older siblings and cousins show their Guernsey cows. Although I may not have remembered it, knowing I was present at such a young age sparked my love for the Guernsey breed. It is now 19 years later and I have never missed a show at our New York State Fair. From interacting with fair goers and educating them on the health benefits of adding Guernsey milk to their diet, to creating relationships that will last a lifetime, I have increased my love for the Guernsey breed year after year.
Currently I am a junior at SUNY Cortland studying Speech-Hearing Science. After I finish my bachelor’s degree, I plan on pursuing my master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. As far as the Guernseys, after I conclude my time as the state princess, I plan to become more involved within the Guernsey breed, helping with the calf scholarship program, as well as helping with the Guernsey youth. I firmly believe in helping the younger generation in their pursuits with their Guernseys, as they are the future of this organization.
I believe the older generation raising up the younger generation is extremely important to maintaining and expanding the Guernsey breed. As some of you may know, the Guernsey breed goes back many years. The 18th century Golden Guernsey cow, with her rich, yellow colored, buttery milk has been developing those relationships between generations that will never diminish. For many of us, we were born into the Guernsey industry; for others, we joined after seeing the long lasting impact the breed and her product has made on families all around the world.
The Golden Guernsey is part of a global generational farming. On the isle of Guernsey where it all began, there are 13 herds accounted for in which two generations are involved, and three herds are first generation farms. In England, there are 11 herds where three generations are involved, 26 herds with two generations, and 10 herds that have started within the last 10 years. These statistics do not show long generational lines, however, it does show the interest in Guernsey farming is growing in Europe.
Moving a little closer to home, in our beautiful state of New York, out of the 16 registered farms in our state, one is a 5th generation farm, two are 4th generation farms, seven have three generations involved, three are 2nd generation farms and three are first generation farms. Although many of these farms have a small number of registered Guernseys, many are looking to expand their amount of registered Guernseys to create a larger pedigreed herd. Young or all, all are excited and ready to continue their family legacy as they carry on this exciting tradition.
Because of the world’s constant increase in population, thus an increased need for food, we know for a fact there will always be a need for farmers. As all those bumper stickers read: NO farmers, NO food. According to the USDA, the average age for farmers is 58 years old. This has only increased in the past few years. This is not a bad thing necessarily, however it does give farmers an indication that they need to be training up the younger generation, teaching them how the Guernsey breed is important, as well as sharing their passion with them. More and more youth are choosing career paths that are leading away from their family farms. Although making an effort to continue a family farm can be difficult, as most know, when you work hard for something, you will profit.
To the young people reading this, whether you are in a generational farming position or not, decide how you want your future in the Guernsey breed to look like. Are you passionate about the Guernsey breed and generational farming? Use your passion; work hard toward your goals, and people will follow your lead. This is an industry where passion and hard work will get you where you want to go. Without that passion, it will be hard to continue your pursuit in an industry that requires such hard work. Find your purpose and couple it with passion, and run with it.
As we pursue our passion, we can use that enthusiasm to promote the Guernsey breed in ways that not only puts a positive light on the dairy industry, but also help the public’s comprehension of the value of our jobs. We are part of the foundational fabric of society in providing a product for their families that is nourishing and wholesome, and in doing so, passing along a legacy to our children and grandchildren who in turn will have an impact on future generations of healthy families.
I hope you will share in my passion of promoting our beautiful Guernsey cows as well as the great product she produces for our society–Golden Guernsey Milk.
2017 New York State Guernsey Princess