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Johnson sisters proud to wear crowns for Dairy Princess, Milk Maid

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BEAUTIES AND THE BEEF — Moos abounded as the Johnson siblings Aubrey and Hailey quickly nuzzle one of the many calves during feeding time. (Star Eagle photo by Rachel Rietsema)


By RACHEL RIETSEMA

Staff Writer

The Johnson sisters’ knowledge of cows is unmistakable. They know how to milk, show and breed beef with the best of them.

They even have crowns to prove it.

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time,” said recently crowned Freeborn County Dairy Princess Hailey Johnson. “Seeing the princesses in the parades as a little girl really excited me.”

Hailey’s little sister Aubrey shares that same cow induced fervor. She is the Freeborn County’s newest Milk Maid, after all.

“I am really, really happy and proud of myself,” Aubrey said.

Fully aware of their new statuses at hand, they look forward to the upcoming summer and fall. Their calendars will be filled with dairy duties up the wazoo.

“I want to be as involved as possible,” Hailey said. “My dairy platform will focus on how youth need to be more involved so that the industry continues to grow and become stronger.”

Promotion will be mainly done via speeches to those of the first and second grades, either in a school setting or at the county fair.

“I also hope to talk to fifth and sixth-graders,” Hailey said. “I’m going to all the parades I can too.”

Eleven-year-old Aubrey’s duties fall under a much mellower category. Yet, the purposes of her milk-related endeavors are just as important.

“I’m ready for the parades, working at the Freeborn County ice cream stand and reading to kids at NRHEG schools,” Aubrey said. “I’ll be reading Daisy the Cow. Actually, my sister Presley read it to me when she was the Milk Maid too.”

Don’t let the simplicity of her Milk Maid tasks fool you though. The amount of work she puts in to earn her title took quite a bit of spunk and dedication.

“I like doing chores because I get to spend time with my favorite animals,” Aubrey said. “Even if we don’t always like the responsibility; we find that we actually do.”

One day, she hopes to be in the same shoes as Hailey, an NRHEG High School senior. In the meantime, she plans on enjoying farm life to the max.

“I think the last time I counted our animals the total was 63,” Aubrey said.

Hailey added, “We live by Freeborn on five-acre hobby farm. We have eight milking cows, nine heifers, two steers and one baby calf. We also have chickens, horses, dogs and cats.”

Included in that list are members of Hailey’s herd, an entity she started in sixth grade.

“There’s Belle, Bernie, Lady, Beauty, Buttercup and another one we never really named,” Hailey said. “We like to spend as much time with them as possible.”

Hailey spends a good portion of that quality time in the ring, garbed in the stark white dairyman outfit. Let’s just say a fair amount of bleach is used.

“We are not afraid to get dirty in 4-H shows,” Hailey said. “I’ve actually gone to the state fair for six years in a row.”

There to take that trip with her last year was none other than Miss Georgia, the infamously ornery, princess-minded cow of a lifetime.

“She walked with her head up,” Hailey said. “I didn’t have to do anything. You could just tell she knew she was good.”

Achieving such perfection isn’t as simple as it looks, according to Hailey. Ideality in genetics plays a huge role in ribbon winning.

“Next year, I’m going to the University of Wisconsin, River Falls,” Hailey said. “I’m going to double major in pre vet medicine and dairy science.”

So, not only does this Dairy Princess plan on promoting the industry, she aspires to live and breathe it.

“Many people have a misconception that dairy is just milking cows,” Hailey said. “There are a lot of different fields that relate to it. You can market the milk, research products and be involved with genetics.”

Before arriving on campus though, she will go on to compete for a spot in the Milky Way competition. If chosen as one of 12 Dairy Princess finalists, she will advance to the Minnesota State Fair. 

“If I win the top spot, I’ll receive a $1,000 scholarship, $500 for wardrobe, and do 12 days of public appearances at the State Fair on behalf of Midwest Dairy,” Hailey said. “The remaining finalists will get $500.”

Winner or not, family traditions must live on. And thus, with a dash of femininity, both she and Aubrey will gladly uphold the cow legacy.

“Our great grandpa had one of the first registered Holstein herds in Minnesota,” Hailey said. “Our grandpa milked 40 cows, which at the time, was a big number in a parlor.”

That was then. This is now. And now more than ever, these newly relinquished crowned jewels of theirs mean business.

“It’s so important to keep the industry going,” Hailey said.

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