Melissa Mitchell recalls wanting to be a veterinarian "ever since I can remember."
And she has been fulfilling that dream since 2004. But it's not the only role that defines her.
She is a wife, the mother of a blended family, and a farmer, too.
Working with dairy cows is integral to Melissa's identity: "It's in my blood. It's my passion."
Melissa grew up on a dairy farm in Grant County and has always been around cattle. Today she lives on an Angus farm that her husband Brandon manages, and she works with cattle as a large animal veterinarian at Shelby Veterinary Clinic in Shelbyville, where she is a partner.
But that's not enough.
In the evenings in a back field on the farm, Melissa checks on her Brown Swiss dairy cow, Splenda, and Splenda's calves. She owns more than a dozen dairy cows elsewhere.
"I guess it just keeps a little bit of home here," she says.
While checking up on the momma cow and calves, Melissa often brings a little one along. Grant, 5 months, goes to childcare when Melissa works at the clinic, but out on the farm the baby comes along for the ride.
Farming and motherhood are "24-7" jobs.
Sometimes her son Caleb Lipps, 6, joins them, and Melissa gives him a hands-on approach to learning about her passion for farming, like learning to guide a calf to a pen. The pair might also take advantage of rare, less busy afternoons to skip rocks on a pond and hang out. After all, they only see each other during half of the week. Caleb lives with his father during the other half.
With his long days on the farm, Melissa doesn't get to see her husband Brandon very much, either. But the two take advantage of every possible moment.
Even if that's just a quick kiss as their paths cross out on the farm.