Something New!

The last year and a half has been full of new things. But we’ve been in a lull for a few months so we decided to venture into a blog to give our friends, family, and customers a little more insight into what we do and why we do it. Some of what we do we just had to do out of necessity some we do out of tradition and some we do for shear joy of being a farmer.

I’ve always wanted to be a farmer from my earliest years all I can remember is wanting to farm, to be just like my Dad. I first milked a cow in 1977. I was 5 years old and dad had to have an outpatient surgery done and couldn’t milk cows for 2 whole milkings! So my mom and I did it. I was 5 years old and dad was milking about 35 cows in an old stanchion barn. We didn’t have the modern convivence of a Pipeline to milk the cows into instead we had a machine that milked the cows into a bucket. when the cow was done we removed the milker and carried the buckets to the “milk veyer” which was a mobile small tank with a hose and a pump that pumped into the bulk tank. Each bucket from the cows weighed about 40 lbs. That was a lot for a 5 year old boy and his 24 year old mom to carry but we did it. And I was hooked. Ever since then all I wanted to do was milk cows.

These 2 pictures are from 1979 a few years after my mom and I milked that first time together. My dad is milking a cow in the first picture and I am cleaning up the manure in the second picture. That was nearly 40 years ago and Dad is still with us and milks sometimes when I am gone but mostly now just provides “management assistance” sometimes he delivers milk for us and he helps to drive tractor in the haying seasons. I still clean up manure to! I’ve been at this a long time.

In 1994 Kristy and I got married and set out to fulfill my dream of milking cows. I had graduated from Michigan State university with an associates in agri business management with an emphasis in dairy management. I had been taught all the newest and latest techniques of farm management. I’ve always enjoyed learning new things but I always felt we lost the old ways in our new and improved world. After many years of struggling and working hard having success and failures we came to a realization that our industry this one I had loved for so long had forgotten it’s origins. We had been trained and told to expand, use debt as an asset, get big or get out. I had served on boards that spoke to feeding the world and that exports were the thing that was needed to save the family farm. All while we lost farmers and the communities around them. Finally the fall of 2022 my Dairy CO-OP came to me and asked if we would sign a new version of the F.A.R.M. program. I read through it and found that it was full of intrusive questions that had no bearing on making quality milk. I said I wouldn’t sign it and they said it’s voluntary but if you don’t we wont pick up your milk. After a month of agony I decided I couldn’t sign it and that ended my dream of milking cows.

Or so I thought.

One day as Kristy and I were talking we were scrolling through some social media and found some farms in the southwest who had started selling fresh milk to their communities. We did a little research met with several farms who were selling fresh milk and decided to jump in! So I went from being a commodity producer in the fall of 2022 to a food producer in 2023. It’s been a steep learning curve. To be honest we had always given an acknowledging nod to the people who were our customers but had really never had any true interaction with them. They were always off in a far city disconnected from us but we were disconnected from them. Now nearly every day we see a customer. When I milk in the morning I know that I am producing milk for Brandon’s family or Caleb’s kids. I know that today I am going to produce milk for a young girl who for years, hasn’t been able to enjoy milk because of a lactose intolerance and I am bringing joy and good nutrition to her and the reward is a smile and the hug my wife gets from a mom who has found some relief for her daughter. So this is an interesting journey for a farm boy from Michigan who only wanted to be like his Dad and milk cows. Thanks you to each of you who make that little boy scraping manure behind the cows dream come true!

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